GOOD ROADS The Magazine of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation
Issue 1: Funding Means Safer Roads Highway Chief Explains Value of Financial Support to Safety
Foundation Good Roads. Good for All.
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2020 EXECUTIVE BOARD Dan Flowers – North Little Rock President D.B. Hill, III – Little Rock Vice President Bob Crafton – Rogers Secretary/Treasurer Harold Beaver – Rogers JoAnne Bush – Lake Village Mark Hayes – Little Rock Mark Lamberth – Batesville Clay McGeorge – Little Rock Robert Moery – Little Rock Robert S. Moore, Jr. – Arkansas City Shannon Newton – Little Rock Chris Villines – Searcy Jim Wooten – Beebe
Dan Flowers President
D.B. Hill, III Vice President
Bob Crafton Secretary/Treasurer
Harold Beaver Rogers
JoAnne Bush Lake Village
Mark Hayes Little Rock
Mark Lamberth Batesville
Clay McGeorge Little Rock
Robert Moery Little Rock
ARKANSAS GOOD ROADS FOUNDATION The Arkansas Good Roads/ Transportation Council was established in 1975 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt and tax-deductible organization. In 2015, the council was re-established as a foundation in order to be a more visible and credible voice on behalf of the mission of the Arkansas Highway Commission and the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The purpose of the foundation is to promote adequate funding and financing for the planning, development, construction, and maintenance of a safe and efficient highway, street, road, and bridge system, including transportation enhancements. The work increases statewide economic growth, private sector job creation and retention, and improves the quality of life in all Arkansas counties, municipalities, and communities.
Joe Quinn, Executive Director email@example.com Bill Paddack, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Celia Blasier, Designer email@example.com Robert S. Moore, Jr. Arkansas City
Shannon Newton Little Rock
Chris Villines Little Rock
Jim Wooten Beebe
Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 3
6 75 Miles an Hour 8 Making Bicycling Safer 12 Good for Business
Speed limits increasing on some Arkansas highways. AGRF, Walton Family Foundation launch year-long effort to ensure safer roads. Commerce Secretary Mike Preston explains how continued, consistent highway funding plays an important role in economic development.
14 Q&A: Why Issue 1 Matters
Arkansas leaders describe the importance of continued highway funding through approval of Issue 1.
18 Chief Jay Thompson 23 27 31
Safety and protecting our infrastructure are essential to the Arkansas Highway Police.
Safety on Our Highways
State Troopers work to save lives and reduce injuries.
Contemplating the extensive overuse of opioid medications and the resulting addictions, overdoses and deaths.
The pandemic underscores the need for an infrastructure that holds us all together in tough times.
REGULAR FEATURES 3 Executive Board 5 ARDOT Update 33 Side Roads
ON THE COVER
Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221 WWW.ARGOODROADS.COM
37 By the Numbers 38 Back Talk 4 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Arkansas Good Roads @arkansasgoodroads AR Good Roads @ARGoodRoads
Arkansas Highway Police Chief Jay Thompson. (Photo by ARDOT/Rusty Hubbard)
Transit Administration Awards $42.7 Million Grant to Department Delegation Says CARES Act Is Continuing to Help Arkansas
WASHINGTON – As the transportation industry faces uncertain times during the current pandemic, help is coming to Arkansas from the CARES Act. In July, Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton – along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman – applauded the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for awarding $42.7 million to the Arkansas Department of John Boozman Transportation in support of the state’s public transit systems. The grant – totaling $42,742,893 – comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law in March with the support of the Arkansas delegation. Tom Cotton “We know many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges and these funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “These federal funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies of all sizes providing essential travel and supporting transit workers across the country who are unable to work because of the public health emergency.” The funding will be used by ARDOT for state and project administration, including leave for employees due to the reductions in service or the need to quarantine; operating expenses to maintain transit
services; and the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. “The CARES Act is continuing to deliver help to Arkansas,” members of the Arkansas congressional delegation said together in a press release. “The transportation industry is facing economic challenges as a result of the coronavirus. These funds will help support the changing needs of transit agencies and ensure Arkansans can continue to use the vital services they provide.”
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Highway Commission Approves Raising Speed Limits In June, the Arkansas Highway Commission approved raising certain speed limits in the state to 75 miles per hour. Routes on which the higher speeds will be allowed include rural sections of Interstates 30, 40, 49, 55, 530 and 555 and also U.S. Highway 67. Speed limits increase from 60 to 65 on urban interstates and on rural multi-lane highways. The speed limit on other rural highways remains at 55 mph. Legislative Act The commission action came on the heels of a study mandated by Act 784 of 2019. That law set the new speed limits, subject to support by an engineering and traffic safety investigation. “This study looked across the state and used industry standards on how to set speed limits,” Arkansas Department of Transportation Director Lorie Tudor said. “We will put into place continual monitoring to make sure the routes stay safe for the motorists.” The commission’s adoption of the study means as soon as signs are installed at a cost of about $350,000,
according to an ARDOT spokesman, Arkansas drivers can take advantage of the higher speed limits. Some Apprehension But some commissioners were reluctant to increase the speed limits. “I think we all have some reservations and concerns for safety,” Commissioner Alec Farmer said. “If you drive faster, you increase the risk of accident or injury. The key thing is the report justifies that speed limits can be raised, and we have the ability to continue to monitor it. If we do see spikes in accidents and fatalities on specific routes, we have the ability to go in and remedy that.” Commissioner Keith Gibson said he was concerned about the study’s prediction that the state will see increased fatalities. “I want everybody to understand that,” he said. “That causes me concern.” Since the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Law in 1995, the authority to establish speed limits on state highway systems has rested with each of the individual states.
928 Airport Road Hot Springs, AR 71913 Phone: 501-767-2366 Fax: 501-767-6859 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bnfeng.com AN ARKANSAS FIRM PROVIDING QUALITY CIVIL/STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING AND SURVEYING SERVICES SINCE 1972 6 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
The Natural State is one of the best places to see fall foliage in all of its glory. With panoramic vistas that overlook the surrounding Ouachita Mountains, the Talimena National Scenic Byway is one of the most picturesque drives around. From U.S. Highway 71 at Mena, the route follows Arkansas 88 into Oklahoma. The route is historic as it was built by the Oklahoma and Arkansas highway departments in the 1960s and connected two former truck trails that had originally been built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s. (Arkansas Parks and Tourism Photo)
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Making Bicycling Safer
The new AGRF initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation, focuses on bicycle safety on our streets and roads. (Photo by Arkansas Parks & Tourism.) 8 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Making Bicycling Safer
Good Roads Helping Make Bicycling Safer In the New Normal AGRF announces new partnership with the Walton Family Foundation. By Joe Quinn Have you noticed there are more bikes on Arkansas roads than ever before, and fewer bikes left in stores? As the number of COVID cases in Arkansas has jumped, thousands of people have turned to an activity that naturally offers socially distanced exercise. All of these new riders are a reminder that cycling is increasingly part of our collective DNA. More people riding is good for local transportation, regional economies and for health in general, but the increase also highlights a growing
need to address a genuine public safety issue. Many of us have not left the house much since March, and there has never been a more emotionally difficult time for many families. We donâ€™t know what the new normal will be, but we all have a greater appreciation of being outdoors with loved ones enjoying fresh air on a beautiful Ozark morning. The chance for people to walk and run has never mattered more in terms of both physical and mental well-being. Our bicycle infrastructure is certainly more important today than it was five years ago when no one talked about a pandemic. More bicycle riders on the roads means more accidents involving bicycles and vehicles. It is because of this growing threat to public safety that the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, an organization focused on promoting safe and efficient roadways throughout the state, is expanding our efforts to remind both drivers, and bicyclists, that they need to work together to reduce cycling accidents. A road and bridge culture that supports transportation enhancements for bike riders is a culture that is thinking about the future in the right way. Transportation Enhancements On August 11 we announced this new project â€‚ Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 9
Making Bicycling Safer in an event at the Crystal Bridges Museum in many at risk for injury or even death. We have a vision Bentonville. The work will be funded with a grant of reducing the number of accidents and reducing the from the Walton Family Foundation, often-seen tension between and the outreach efforts managed and cyclists. That We can all do better motorists by a dynamic communication firm. relationship has to improve if understanding the we are to succeed in making The campaign will put the Good Roads brand on millions of digital safer for all of us. The rules of the road. roads posts and expand awareness of Good solution to the problem can be Roads in ways we could not have found through education. imagined just a few years ago. Ask any veteran cyclist and they probably have The Good Roads Executive Board has adjusted a story to tell about a close call with a vehicle. Ask our mission statement to help with projects that are any driver and they can tell you about a cyclist that considered transportation enhancements. These are “came out of nowhere.” It is safe to say, none of us projects that in many ways will help drive economic are perfect – but the simple fact remains we can all do growth and the quality of community life in any region better understanding the rules of the road. of the state. I am so proud If ever there was a time to put of the board’s willingness focus on bike safety, this is that We are on the the to evolve in ways that better moment. We are on the precipice position Good Roads for the precipice of real of real change in what feels like an challenges of the future. unreal time, and we need to seize change in what feels County judges, mayors, upon this moment to ensure a better planning commission like an unreal time. future for all those who use our members and tourism leaders roadways. across the state understand that a robust bike culture A version of this article originally appeared in the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette on August 10. in any community is a way to increase quality of life and drive the local economy. The increased emphasis on this newly popular mode of transportation will help any community attract and retain the talent that is vital to the success of any region. We all should celebrate this growth, but it is time we had a realistic discussion about making the sport as safe as possible. Safe for the pickup driver who has never been on a bike, and safe for the new rider out for a five-mile ride on a Saturday morning. New Bicycle Traffic Law We will be working to make sure everyone learns about new transportation enhancements affecting cyclists and motorists alike. In 2019 Arkansas became Providing superior materials and service for nearly 50 years. the second state in the country to make it legal for cyclists to treat stop lights as stop signs and stop • Industrial Sand • Concrete Aggregate • Rip Rap signs as yield signs. This forward-thinking legislation • Slurry • Ballast • Seal chips is intended to reduce collisions between cyclists • Crushed Stone • Asphalt Aggregate • Roadbase and vehicles by causing both groups to approach intersections – and other high traffic areas – with more Patrick Sullenger, Sales Manager awareness of each other. It will also allow cyclists to 501-490-1535 / email@example.com move through intersections more quickly, decreasing P.O. Box 138 / Sweet Home, Arkansas 72164 / gmqrock.com the amount of time they are exposed to traffic. Despite the law’s existence for more than a year, research indicates 90 percent of Arkansans are unfamiliar with the new bicycle traffic law, putting too
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Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221 WWW.ARGOODROADS.COM 479-426-5931
Arkansas Good Roads @arkansasgoodroads AR Good Roads @ARGoodRoads
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Good Roads and Issue 1 Are Critical to Arkansas Business
Mike Preston, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce The economic challenges we have faced in 2020 of nearly all who are considering creating more jobs have taught us lessons we should think about and here. Transporting goods to market is clearly the most learn from as we look to a different kind of future. If important aspect of manufacturing, and all companies one thing is clear it is that any definition of “normal” consider this a competitive component of the selection is changing daily. The business world has shifted, and process. We have made great strides in the past eight while good roads and transportation systems have years, but we now must maintain what we have built, always been important, the way we transport goods as well as plan for new projects. is now more critical than ever to the health of our In the economic development world, it’s often the economy and the ability of numbers that best tell any Arkansas families to get the story. Trucks carry $226 We can get everything necessities of life. billion in goods shipped to else right in the and from sites in Arkansas The funding mechanism for a third of all highway economic development every year. By 2045 the and road projects in the value of that freight is competitions, but without expected to increase by state has been in place since 2012, when 58% of continued, consistent, 90%. Road construction Arkansas voters agreed with work in Arkansas creates highway funding, we 35,000 jobs and pushes the investment in the future of the state for a superior will start from a more $176 million dollars and safe road system. That annually into local challenging position. economies. funding, now in the form of a constitutional amendment, Pick any major is back on the ballot Nov. industry in Arkansas and the need for good roads 3. Let me tell you why a vote FOR the amendment is inescapable. Our farms require trucks for every means a better future for all of us. aspect of production. Our thriving poultry industry Numbers Tell the Story that creates tens of thousands of jobs has hundreds First, this system is working. Counties and cities of trucks moving product from farm to production across the state derive one-third of their total road facility to stores. Trucks, and the roads they drive on, funding from this source. And much of it is used to are critical to the economic well-being and future of match federal funding, which multiplies and magnifies the state we love. our ability to build. Think of all of the great roads We can get everything else right in the economic built in the past eight years, across the state and development competitions, but without continued, through every county. If this funding is lost, it would consistent, highway funding, we will start from a more be catastrophic to the effort to maintain and build new challenging position. Make no mistake that when roads in all Arkansas counties and regions. our economic development teams talk to companies As we rebuild our economy and compete for thinking of bringing their people and jobs here, the existing industry expansion and new projects, the quality and location of good roads is always part of the quality and safety of our roads is at the top of the list early discussions. 12 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Commentary For years now most of us have been shopping online, and the pandemic will only increase the need for an infrastructure that can deliver to your doorstep whether you live in an urban area or a small farm town. People are spending more online and some delivery times are taking longer now than they Gov. Asa Hutchinson announces a $45 million project by Transplace, a transportation management were six months ago. service company, to build its new operations center in Rogers. Arkansas must continue to fund long-term solutions if we are to keep up with for counties in Arkansas at stake. Failure is not an the rapidly changing shopping and delivery needs of option. millions of families. I am proud of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation members who have worked tirelessly over A vote for this much-needed the years to design, build and fund roads. Good Roads extension on Nov. 3 will members also make the products and drive the trucks that keep us safe. help provide that long-term Please share this with everyone you know, because solution needed for every this is as important as any issue we will consider this year. We need to work together to put a funding aspect of our local, regional, system in place to give us quality roads for decades to national and international come. It is good for business in so many ways.
Keep the Wheels Turning Food security, and supply chains, become national security issues when threatened. And the quality of our roads is paramount. Our recent crisis has put a spotlight on the heroes of the road, those men and women who persevere day and night to get food and necessities to our stores and markets, and doorsteps. Transportation infrastructure planning and execution needs will only increase over the next 50 years. A vote for this much-needed extension on Nov. 3 will help provide that long-term solution needed for every aspect of our local, regional, national and international commerce. Whether across town or across the world, the first step on the long road to market is always just outside the gates of Arkansas production facilities, and everyone must do their part to keep the wheels turning. We have established how important good, safe roads are to every part of our lives. And weâ€™ve also established how crucial this constitutional amendment is to our future, with fully a third of all road funding
From left, Commerce Secretary Mike Preston and Gov. Asa Hutchinson visit with Robert Foster, owner of Intimidator, which manufactures utility vehicles. In 2019, the company celebrated the completion of a new manufacturing facility at its headquarters at Batesville.
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Traffic on Interstate 440 near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport at Little Rock. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
Why Does Issue 1 Matter?
Arkansas Leaders Provide Thoughts On the Need for It 14 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Q & A: Why Does Issue 1 Matter? “Over the years, “Since last there have been fall, we have several funding stressed the proposals to importance increase revenue of city and for county roads, town councils city streets and passing a state highways. resolution Some of these in support proposals have been met with of Issue 1. Not only does it significant opposition. However, let your citizens know how the current proposal, Issue 1, which important the funding source will significantly benefit further is for the community, but when improvement to these road systems, the majority of municipalities has gained the support of a wide pass the same resolution, you’re range of people and organizations telling the state as a whole how that have come together to work for important this issue is. And you building better roads and bridges are hopefully, in a sense, starting in a more timely manner. It will be a movement.” better and less expensive to make – Mark R. Hayes, Executive needed road improvements sooner Director, Arkansas rather than waiting several more Municipal League years until the same work will cost substantially more.” – Dan Flowers, President, “The Executive Board, Arkansas Arkansas Good Roads Foundation Chapter of the American Traffic “For the Safety Services trucking Association industry, strongly Issue 1 supports Issue matters 1. Continued because investments in the roads transportation infrastructure not are our only create jobs and ignite the office. We economy, but most importantly need safe highways the same save lives on roads throughout way others need a desk, an exam Arkansas. If voters want safer table, a kitchen, a classroom. roads throughout the state, then I’ll be voting yes on Issue 1 Issue 1 must pass in November.” in support of safe spaces that – Brad Fryar allow trucking to deliver for all Vice President, Contractor’s Arkansans.” Specialty Service Company – Shannon Newton President, Arkansas Trucking Association
“Some say due to the COVID crisis now is not the time to pass Issue 1. However, passing Issue 1 is exactly what we need in Arkansas because of the COVID Pandemic. COVID will eventually end. ... The need for safe, well-maintained roads never does. Investment in infrastructure is one of the best investments we can make with our dollars. Issue 1 creates economic stimulation and jobs, plus good roads attract tourism dollars and help recruit new business to our state. Let’s not overlook that new and properly maintained roads make travel in our great state safer and enhance everyone’s quality of life. Issue 1 is a small investment to make all of these a reality.” – Park Estes, Executive Director, Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association “Issue 1 is an absolute must-have for Arkansans. The need to fix potholes and reduce traffic wait times is long overdue and we can’t do it without passing Issue 1. At the same time, keeping all Arkansans safe in their travels while keeping our economy moving will rely heavily on Issue 1 passing.” – Robert Moery, Principal, Broadview Strategies
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Q & A: Why Does Issue 1 Matter? “Issue 1 is the most important issue on the November ballot. It’s incumbent on the municipal leadership of Arkansas to communicate this to our constituents. Issue 1 must pass as cities, towns and counties count on receiving $43 million annually from this funding. For a town the size of Mulberry, we can’t withstand a $38,572 annual loss beginning in FY2024. A ‘Vote for Roads, Vote for Issue 1’ is a vote to move Arkansas forward.” – Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter, President, Arkansas Municipal League
“It is critical that the voters of Arkansas pass Issue 1 on the November ballot. We must make the halfcent sales tax permanent to continue with the maintenance and the construction of highways, streets and roads in our state. For Jonesboro alone, allowing the half-cent sales tax to sunset would mean a loss of $1,567,655 annually in FY 2024 and beyond. We cannot absorb this annual loss. Moreover, Arkansas as a whole can’t afford to be known as a state with unsafe highways, streets and roads.” – Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin
“Each year, I travel to every corner of this great state and I know, first-hand, the problems with Arkansas roadways. It is not enough to be aware of the problem or talk about the problem. It is about funding to solve the problem. I have heard from county judges, mayors and Arkansans and I support Issue 1 because I will not rob our state of the projected $8.6 billion in economic activity it would generate over the next decade.” – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Roadwork on Highway 80 between Danville and Waldron. With the passage of Issue 1 in November, Arkansas will continue to invest $290 million annually in safer, better highways, roads, streets and bridges. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
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We’re invested in Arkansas. For more than a century, Garver has been helping the Natural State grow with the most advanced highway designs. Because we’ve learned that when we invest in necessary infrastructure, business development follows, and that makes Arkansas a better place to live. We’re proud to help Arkansas grow, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
For more information, contact: Jerry Holder, PE, Director of Transportation JDHolder@GarverUSA.com | 501.376.3633 | GarverUSA.com
Good Roads Foundation
Profile: Chief Jay Thompson Earlier in the year, Chief Jay Thompson and officers from the Arkansas Highway Police distributed 100,000 masks to commercial truck drivers at weigh stations and rest areas across the state. It was part of a coordinated effort with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (ARDOT Photo by Rusty Hubbard)
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As head of the Arkansas Highway Police, safety and the importance of protecting the state’s transportation and infrastructure system are always on Jay Thompson’s mind. By Bill Paddack
A typical day – if there is such a thing – for Arkansas Highway Police Chief Jay Thompson centers on “making sure our officers stay focused on the division’s mission, perform their duties in a professional manner, and protect life and property including our highways, and most of all, praying our officers return home safely each and every day.” That’s “my every day,” Thompson said. “However,” he added, “being a fullfledged law-enforcement agency, my days are never the same. We never know what’s about to happen. Our officers are some of the best in the nation, which helps me tremendously. Some people still think all we do is stop big trucks and, yes, that’s our main focus, but we do enforce all laws of the state and provide assistance to other law-enforcement agencies throughout the state.” Federal Safety Regulations Safety is certainly an emphasis for the AHP. “AHP officers are the only
Profile: Chief Jay Thompson law-enforcement officers in Arkansas responsible for enforcing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations,” Thompson said. “These regulations are enforced to ensure the safety of the motoring public while ‘sharing the road’ with commercial motor vehicles. “Unless you’re a motor carrier or commercial driver, you probably don’t even realize these regulations exist, but let me tell you, they do and they are lengthy. Our officers receive extensive training in order to enforce these federal regulations, which include the transportation of hazardous materials.” Thompson began his career with the AHP, a division of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, as a patrol officer at Pine Bluff. He holds an associates degree in criminal justice from Pikes Peak Community College at Golden, Colo., and senior certification by the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. Biggest Challenge He has been recognized as an expert in law enforcement, specifically when it comes to enforcing laws surrounding size and weight, federal motor carrier safety regulations, and the transportation of hazardous materials. Thompson has served as a certified law-enforcement instructor for both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Training Center and the State of Arkansas. His agency – which is responsible for eight weigh stations across the state that operate 24 hours a day all year long – currently has 145 certified officers. He’s looking at adding 30 more in the coming months, working toward filling all the 208 positions allocated. “I’m very proud to be a part of the AHP team,” he said. “I have been very fortunate to have worked for this agency for the past 30 years. Working my way through the ranks has been a tremendous blessing and has allowed me the opportunity to truly understand Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 19
Profile: Chief Jay Thompson the overall mission of the AHP. Alliance (CVSA), with his last I strive to share my experiences term ending in September 2019. with our officers to ensure they Recognized as an international too understand our mission so our authority on commercial motor work will continue to be headed in vehicle safety and security, the right direction and we stay on Thompson said the CVSA track to accomplish our mission. was established to promote an Challenges come and go as with environment free of commercial any job, but at the moment, my vehicle accidents and incidents. Its biggest challenge is keeping our mission is to promote commercial officers safe.” motor vehicle safety and Protecting the Infrastructure security by providing leadership The Arkansas Highway Police to enforcement, industry and was established in 1929 and was “We typically conduct known back then as over 40,000 roadside the Arkansas Road Patrol, Thompson safety inspections each explained. “The year, many of which agency was actually the first state result in unsafe trucks or law-enforcement drivers being taken off agency and was created to protect the road before they are the infrastructure involved in a crash.” of Arkansas. –Arkansas Highway Police The primary responsibility in Chief Jay Thompson 1929 was to enforce the state’s size and weight laws in policymakers. He said this is an effort to prevent damage to the accomplished by establishing highways. effective transportation safety “Although there have been standards for motor carriers, many additional responsibilities drivers, vehicles and inspectors added to the men and women through compliance, education, serving Arkansas as Highway training and enforcement programs. Police officers, protecting the Away from the Highway Police, state’s infrastructure is still a he enjoys spending time at home top priority for us. In fact, we on a small ranch with his family take pride in our heritage and and friends and tending to horses this responsibility of protecting and cows. the huge investment Arkansans We asked Chief Thompson, have made towards our highway who turned 52 in August, about system. We’re refocused and the cattle at his ranch at Glen Rose reenergized about taking care of (Hereford bull, Angus cows), safety our infrastructure.” issues, bad accidents, COVID-19 Thompson was elected and and the role adequate funding plays served twice as president of in keeping Arkansas roadways the Commercial Vehicle Safety safe. 20 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
What safety issues do you deal with regularly and how important are the Highway Police to public safety and good, safe roads? We typically conduct over 40,000 roadside safety inspections each year, many of which result in unsafe trucks or drivers being taken off the road before they are involved in a crash. In fact, by taking them off the road before they are involved in crashes saves lives, and we do this every day. It is important, however, to recognize there are many commercial trucks and drivers out there who are doing things right and are safe. I would put Arkansas motor carriers and their drivers up against any across the United States when it comes to safety. This is a team effort and our Arkansas carriers are doing their part as well. AHP is nationally recognized for its efforts in drug interdiction. A large number of our drug seizures come out of commercial motor vehicles, so obviously some of our drug seizures are extremely large. Without giving up too much information, I’ll just say we have some of the best drug interdiction officers across this country. The fight against drug traffickers is a dangerous thing and every load of drugs we seize protects communities across Arkansas. Any bad accidents over the years that you’ve learned something from? I’ve seen many accidents over my career and none of them are good, but those that result in the loss of human life stick with you. If there was truly a way for every person to pay attention while they were driving and obey the rules of the road, our accidents would
Profile: Chief Jay Thompson from people not paying attention. decline so fast your head would We call it “inattentive driving.” spin. Unfortunately, we haven’t If everyone would put both hands figured out how to get people to on the steering wheel, look ahead, do this, and it seems to be getting slow down and obey the traffic worse. laws, most crashes would not With cell phones, road rage, occur. impatient people and so many people who just don’t pay attention while “If there was truly a they are driving, our way for every person to accidents will continue to increase. We are pay attention while they obviously going to were driving and obey continue enforcing traffic laws in an effort the rules of the road, to prevent crashes, but our accidents would when people ask me how we get to zero decline so fast your crashes or zero deaths, head would spin.” my answer is simple. Most crashes occur – Jay Thompson
How does adequate and, hopefully, increased funding affect safety and help Highway Police officers do their job? Adequate funding is paramount in order for the AHP to perform the necessary duties on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s important to realize the role of an AHP officer is just one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to highway safety. It is our responsibility to protect the state’s investment in our transportation system, and we strive to accomplish this task every single day. We continue to work towards increasing our staffing levels to maximum capacity and have highway police officers in all 75 counties throughout the state. Thirty years ago when I began
Chief Thompson: “I enjoy serving the people of Arkansas and its guests a lot, but my favorite part of being the chief is working hard every day to make the Highway Police the best place to work. It’s our officers that make this agency great. Without them we simply couldn’t get the job done.” (ARDOT Photo by Rusty Hubbard)
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Profile: Chief Jay Thompson my career with AHP, I had no idea about the costs of our investment in the infrastructure or how important a good transportation system is to safety and our state’s economy. I would venture to say most people are a lot like I was 30 years ago. They don’t realize the cost of a highway, a bridge, a four-inch overlay, or just the costs of trying to maintain an existing highway. AHP officers are educated on these costs related to our transportation system and understand the importance of protecting it. We also understand the highway system belongs to all Arkansans, which we happen to be, so we protect it like it’s our own because it’s just that, ours. In some form or fashion, Arkansans pay for the highways and it’s our job to protect their property. Heavy traffic volumes, high temperatures during the summer months, heavy rains along with freezing weather, and commercial motor vehicles exceeding the legal weight limits are just a few things that can cause unnecessary damage to our highways. We can’t control the weather, but we can enforce the state’s size and weight laws, which we do every day. How have things changed since COVID-19? COVID-19 has certainly changed the world as we knew it. As for AHP, we have adapted and implemented various safety measures to ensure our officers are as safe as they can be while protecting life and property. Each officer was issued PPE’s and plenty of sanitizing products, but we can’t stop working. In fact, emergencies are what we handle, it’s our responsibility – that’s what we get
The Good Stuff Name: Chief Jay Thompson Hometown: Little Rock. Family: Wife Terri; daughter Lindsey; son Jake; three granddaughters, Addie, Annie and Parker; one grandson, Luke. Hobbies: Spending time outdoors, raising cattle, riding horses and playing golf. Favorite Music: Country. Favorite Movie: Any western, but I’m really enjoying the TV series “Yellowstone.” Favorite Vacationn Spot: Colorado. First Car: ’57 Chevy. Favorite Sports Team: Go Hogs! Favorite Quote or Slogan: “You Gotta Want it!” (I typically say this to people when I see or hear them say “I can’t” or “It’s hard.”) It’s really true when you think about it, if you really want something you can make it happen most of the time, you just “gotta want it!” What’s Always With You When You Travel: Unfortunately, my cell phone. Favorite Stretch of Highway in Arkansas: State Highway 240 West, just south of Caddo Gap. paid to do and we are proud to do so. During times of emergencies there are always leaders who step up and shine. The COVID-19 emergency was no different. AHP officers never missed a beat and continue to work every day through these difficult times. But our officers weren’t the only people who got my attention. The newly appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Lorie Tudor, never missed a beat during this emergency; our governor has not missed a beat; our health-care professionals and our commercial truck drivers didn’t miss a beat. I remember getting asked what are we going to do if the grocery stores are empty, or where can we get toilet paper and other items that are a necessity to our basic needs. Again, just like the importance of funding to highway safety, good leadership is important during emergencies.
22 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Governor Hutchinson and Director Tudor implemented measures to allow commercial truck drivers the flexibility needed to get necessary medical supplies, groceries and house products delivered in a timely manner. Even our timber industry and farmers were included in these emergency relief measures. While on the phone one evening dealing with emergency relief efforts, my wife overheard me talking about the timber industry. She asked why the timber industry is considered critical. I replied, “Where do you think that toilet paper you’ve been racing to the store to fight over comes from?” I could go on and on about changes COVID-19 has brought, but I’ll just say pride and stress! I’ve been stressed, but I’m proud of the many leaders who have stepped up, worked together and helped us get through these difficult times.
State Police Talk Safety
State Troopers Urge Drivers to Pay Attention, Buckle Up, Don’t Speed or Text, Allow Extra Time Division has begun to step up saturation There are just under 550 Arkansas State speed enforcement patrols across the Troopers, and more than two-thirds of state, but particularly in some counties them are assigned to the Highway Patrol where fatality crashes have been minimal Division. State Police investigate more in recent years, but have spiked during motor vehicle crashes (24%) than any 2020.” the other 300 Arkansas law-enforcement He said the analytical reports agencies. reinforce “the suspicions of many State State Troopers work daily to enhance Troopers that impaired driving (alcohol safety, reduce wrecks and ultimately save and drugs), distracted driving and the non-compliance lives and make Arkansas’ roads and highways safer. of Arkansas’ primary law are among the other Analyzing Data contributing factors in both fatal and injury crashes.” Colonel Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Keeping Roadways Safe Police, explained that one of the primary functions of the Arkansas State Police Highway Major Forrest Marks, Western Region commander in the Highway Safety Office is the collection Patrol Division, emphasized that and analyzing of data extracted practically every traffic stop a State from approximately 82,000 motor Trooper makes while on patrol vehicle crash investigations each assignments correlates directly year submitted by all Arkansas or indirectly to keeping Arkansas law- enforcement agencies. highways a safe means of travel. “The statistical analysis is Marks Bryant “A traffic stop along any crucial information, not only for highway is dangerous for both the Arkansas State Police, but also other law-enforcement “Drivers should be the trooper and the occupants of the vehicle being pulled agencies, Bryant said. reminded that if they over,” Marks said. “Drivers “The periodic reports from Highway Safety identify are stopped by a law- should be reminded that if they are stopped by a lawcommon denominators and enforcement officer enforcement officer or have similar contributing factors found within the crash or have some other some other legitimate reason to stop alongside the highway, investigative reports. legitimate reason to stop pick the spot carefully. Get “In recent months speed appears to be one of the alongside the highway, the vehicle as far as possible from the edge of the road.” biggest contributing factors in pick the spot carefully.” He said an even greater the fatality crash category. In – Major Forrest Marks risk occurs on interstate and response, the Highway Patrol Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 23
State Police Talk Safety provides resources to aid members of the ASP family other divided highways. “Arkansas’ ‘move over’ in times of crisis, as well as providing assistance for law requires drivers to transition into ‘the farthest possible lane or position’ when approaching a stopped other unfunded ASP needs. Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible to law-enforcement or other emergency vehicle with the extent the law allows and ensure that assistance to its blue, red, white, amber or green emergency lights the ASP from the Foundation can continue. The ASP activated,” he said. Foundation, in collaboration with the ASP, hosts the What Drivers Should Do annual ASP Awards Luncheon at Camp Robinson and So what are some things that Foundation Appreciation Dinner at State Police encourage every driver the Governor’s Mansion. in Arkansas to do to make our “It is my distinct pleasure and system of highways safer? honor to serve as the ASP Foundation “Talk to any two or three State Board chairman,” Frank Guinn Troopers and odds are they all will said. “Our board is a strong team give the same response,” Major Aaron composed of extraordinary citizens Jason Aaron, Eastern Region from all parts of our state who give commander of the Highway Patrol Division, said. Guinn of their time to raise needed funds for “Drivers should pay close attention to their speed, the Foundation. never send a text message while driving, if a driver “The ASP is an elite law enforcement agency has to answer their cell phone, use a hands-free device and providing support is considered a high privilege and always buckle up the seat belt.” each board member. Hearing From Survivors “It’s something by Corporations and businesses, as Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Garner, deputy director of the Arkansas we’ve needed for well as numerous individuals, Arkansas have State Policea long time, and it throughout joined with the Foundation in Enforcement Operations, is one of the most funding many needed efforts.” Driving Track stresses that beautiful tracks you One such recent venture learning from survivors is will ever run into.” is building a superior training important. – Frank Guinn facility for State Troopers – accessible to all levels of law “Survivors of Garner enforcement and first responders in Arkansas – that a motor vehicle crash say ‘it happened before I could react’ or ‘I just didn’t see the will enhance their success at making the state safer. “One of our major projects has been the completion other vehicle.’ Our advice is to always give yourself of the ASP Precision Driving Training Track located extra time during the drive, even if it’s just to go at Camp Robinson,” Guinn said. “It’s something across town,” Garner said. “Trying to make up for we’ve needed for a long time, and it is one of the most lost time usually doesn’t end well. And always pay attention to what’s going on in front of you, not what’s beautiful tracks you will ever run into. “This project has been possible through going on inside the vehicle or who you may be talking outstanding partnerships with so to on the telephone.” many supporters, but especially Foundation’s Support In 2002, the Arkansas “Trying to make up with the Arkansas Army National Guard under the leadership of State Police Foundation was for lost time usually former Major General Mark Berry created with the sole purpose of assisting the Arkansas State doesn’t end well.” and current Major General Kendall Penn. We are grateful to the many Police in fulfilling its mission – Lieutenant Colonel donors and friends who make the to provide a safe environment Shawn Garner Foundation work possible.” while protecting the citizens – Bill Paddack of Arkansas. The Foundation 24 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
To Our Valued AGRF Members: Thank You!
Thanks for supporting us and helping us tell the story of why good roads and bridges matter. For membership information, please contact Joe Quinn at 479-426-5931. ACEC/A AGC Arkansas Alec Farmer APAC-Central, Inc. APAC-Tennessee, Inc. Arkadelphia Alliance Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association Arkansas Concrete Arkansas Department of Transportation Arkansas Farm Bureau Arkansas Municipal League Arkansas Poultry Federation Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Arkansas Trucking Assocation Ash Grove Cement Company Association of Arkansas Counties/County Judges Atlas Asphalt, Inc. (Jamestown Investments) B & F Engineering, Inc. Bank of Delight Bob Crafton Bobby Glover Burns & McDonnell Cashion Company Clark Machinery Company Commercial Bank - Monticello Contractor’s Specialty Service Company Cowling Title CPC Midsouth Crafton-Tull & Associates Crisp Contractors Curt Green & Company, LLC D.B. Hill Contracting Dan Flowers Delta Asphalt Dermott Industrial Developement Dumas Chamber of Commerce Eagle Bank and Trust Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce First Community Bank of Batesville FM Structural Plastic Technology Forsgren, Inc. Garver LLC Golden Triangle Economic Development Harold Beaver Hines Trucking Inc. HNTB Corporation
Horatio State Bank Hudson, Cisne & Company Hutchens Construction Company I 49 International Coalition Jack Buffington Jeffrey Sand Company Jensen Construction Company Jim Wooten JoAnne Bush Johnnie Bolin Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce Kiewit Company Koss Construction Company LaCroix Optical Company Larco, Inc. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Lion Oil Company M & T Paving and Construction Company, Inc. Maxwell Hardwood Flooring McGeorge Contracting Company, Inc. Michael Baker Int’l Midwest Lime Company Millar, Inc. Mobley General Contractors Monticello Economic Development Commission NE Ark. Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority NWA Council Ohlendorf Investment Company OK AR Chapter American Concrete Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce Philip Taldo Razorback Concrete Company Riceland Foods, Inc. Riggs CAT Robert Moery Robert S. Moore, Jr. Rogers Group, Inc. Ronnie Duffield Gravel Company Ryburn Motor Company, Inc. Scott Equipment Springdale Chamber of Commerce SW AR Planning & Development District Tyson Foods, Inc. University of Arkansas Upper SW Regional Solid Waste Management District Walmart Weaver-Bailey Contractors, Inc. Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 25
From the Executive Director
Leadership from the Good Roads Board
Joe Quinn, Arkansas Good Roads Executive Director When I took the job as Good Roads executive Five days later, my son called me, and I could director, one of the first things I did was to go see hear the anguish in his voice as he choked out, “Wells Mark Hayes with the Arkansas Municipal League is gone.” In the days that followed, Jimmy said and Chris Villines with the Association of Arkansas repeatedly to his mother and me, “I should have done Counties. I asked them instead of sending one mayor, something different.” The pain ran deep in our house and one county judge, to the Good Roads Executive at the loss of a way-too-young Little Rock Catholic Board, to take the board seats themselves. It was one High graduate who really could light up a room and of the best opening moves I could have made. spark laughter. It’s not just that county Learning From His Story We all should think judges and mayors are the I have no way of frontline ambassadors for the pain Mark more about the understanding our issues, it’s that Mark and and his wife have been through. American opioid But I do know Mark has opted Chris run large associations and they were always to publicly write about Wells’ epidemic that will still available with thoughts on death. With grace and courage, be here after we find a how we could grow Good he reminds us that we all can Roads into a more visible learn from Wells’ story, and we COVID-19 vaccine. organization. Chris and Mark all should think more about the carry political weight, but American opioid epidemic that neither of them take themselves too seriously. will still be here after we find a COVID-19 vaccine. Definitely a Small World Please take a moment to read Mark’s words, and if One day in April, my 23-year-old son Jimmy you know a family who loves someone fighting this happened to pick up a copy of the new Good Roads horrid addiction, let them know they are not alone. magazine lying on the kitchen table. He was flipping On the day my son called his parents to say that his through it when he said, “Dad, you know Mr. Hayes?” friend was gone, I remembered a long-ago morning. I said I knew him well as he was on the Good Roads Jimmy and Wells and a group of their college friends board. In a classic Arkansas small world moment were in our kitchen ready to go off for a day of Jimmy told me his friend Wells was Mark’s son. I had watching a golf tournament. They were laughing and met Wells multiple times through Jimmy, but had no high-fiving and acting like young men who absolutely idea of the connection. knew they had a great weekend ahead. I vividly A few minutes later I called Mark and said, “Hey, remember that moment as they fixed beverages and our kids know each other. Jimmy has been in your laughed. They all seemed so young and so vibrant. house.” We talked as Dads for a few minutes and I Wells said something funny and they roared and off shared a story from Jimmy about a kind thing one of they went. Mark’s sons did for my kid during freshmen year in There should have been more of those days. college. We laughed as we talked about our boys. It Godspeed Wells. Jimmy and so many others think was a nice break from worrying about the pandemic. about you every day. 26 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
PANDEMIC RELIEF, EPIDEMIC CRISIS
Mark Hayes, Good Roads Board Member A vaccine will be invented and, like so many other Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the killer viruses, COVID-19 will wither on the vine and May 2020 City & Town magazine. By the time you read this I’m hopeful our state will die. Unfortunately, our journey to health as Arkansans have begun its rebirth from COVID-19. Not too fast will not end with a COVID-19 vaccine. No, there’s mind you, but rather a logical and rational approach another killer on the loose just as our governor has and it hasn’t yet been fully led us from the start but in 1 addressed. We will be leaving reverse. I think many things the virus pandemic but will change for us over the remain in a deadlier, more next few years. People will long-standing epidemic that continue to social distance in many instances hasn’t although perhaps not as been dealt with. I speak of strictly as we’re doing now. course, of the epidemic of We’ll work at home more. opioid addictions, overdoses We’ll use disinfectant wipes and deaths. By the time you and sprays more than we ever read this my 23-year-old son4 have. Anybody coughing or will have been dead from sneezing will no doubt make such an overdose for nearly us anxious for many years a month. Four or five weeks to come. We won’t think will have passed since he of headaches as we have collapsed, passed out and in the past nor the loss of drifted into death. He is now taste or smell. Shortness of part of a lost generation. breath may yield a 911 call His best friend suffered the rather than a brief respite. I same fate just over two years suspect many of us will have ago. And then, horrifically, groceries and other staples Wells and me. two days after Wells died delivered to our homes. If we go to a store of any kind, we’ll pick off hours in hopes another good friend he met in rehab passed away. My son Wells suffered so much after his best pal died. He there won’t be very many people. Telemedicine will lived an anguished life over the past 24 months. Nearlikely become the new normal for routine doctor death experiences from overdoses certainly weren’t visits. I wonder about movie theaters and small everyday occurrences with him, but they happened restaurants. Will they survive or change somehow? often enough that we knew what the drill was. We And what about traditional handshakes? What do knew the need for chest compressions, counting one, we do, the Vulcan salute?2 Peace signs?3 And hugs, two, three, four while listening to the neutral calm what about hugs?! And yes, we’ll certainly wash our voice of the 911 dispatcher. We knew that help would hands more. It may take months or even years for our society to fully deal with the coronavirus, but we will. arrive quickly. We knew Narcan could be administered Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 27
Guest Commentary pleading, screaming mother wanting her child back. They cause funerals attended by family torn to shreds by the death of a young person whose life had just barely begun. Grief so very profound that it hurts. It quite literally hurts in the chest as though a force so strong is tearing through the rib cage and brutalizing the heart. It is the worst possible thing to witness and be a part of. It is my reality and it is the reality of my wife Alison. My dear precious spouse now faces motherhood with only three of her four children. She faces every waking minute without her baby boy. And she faces most sleeping minutes tortured with horrible visions and what ifs. That is the harsh, vicious and brutal truth of opioid addiction. That is our life now and The “unblended blended family”: Wells, Alison, Bliss, me, Franz and Colin. forever more. The combination of COVID-19 and with near-miraculous results. We also knew it was too opioids in Arkansas is a hell on earth. We are lucky, late this last time. I tried. Nearly two minutes of me however, because we are assured by virtually every pushing on his chest. Oh, how I tried. expert that a vaccine will be created for the virus and Many other friends of my children have died. I can it likely will be done in record time. That would be a quickly count five without even trying. With just a miracle for sure. But our society will continue with little effort the number gets closer to 10. It happens so this plague of addiction caused by manufacturers frequently that there’s almost a callousness from the and distributors placing profits before people. They remainder of us. “Oh, there’s another one. When will value cold hard cash more than Wells, more than his it end?” Well, when will it end? How many people friends and more than an entire generation. Amid must die? Like the coronavirus, opioid addiction our new normal of social distancing, there is a new knows no boundaries. Wealthy, poor, educated or not, surge of fatal opioid overdoses. That’s right—while male, female. If you know a group of people under 30 taking precautions to stay away from the pandemic, or 35 there is a high likelihood that someone in that the epidemic is killing at a record pace. There are group has an opioid problem. Lots of them start on multiple reasons this is happening. Certainly, the stress 5 pills, “hydros” and “oxys.” Some don’t do pills but and depression of being alone leads some away from try other things. Regardless, in all too many instances sobriety and into the warm, welcoming death hug black tar heroin is just plain cheap. Just a few dollars of heroin. For others the inability to get to daily or for a hit. weekly sobriety meetings or church services pushes As I’ve said many times, the illegal drug them to use again. And for those who use suboxone in manufacturing world cares nothing about the quality their fight for sobriety, the inability to get to the doctor control of their product. Thus, it matters little that the or the clinic or both to get the prescription updated concentration of the drug or the mixture with death leads to the same dark place. I fear we’ll see more traps like fentanyl are so high that death is a very suffering and more death. I fear for my children, your real possibility even for the most casual of users. In children and grandchildren. I fear for my grieving some instances, what’s sold as heroin may in reality wife. I fear for Wells’ dad, his aunts and uncles, and be fentanyl. One may as well put a gun to their head his grandparents. if that’s the case. That’s a high that nobody recovers All is not lost. There are some simple steps that can from. These drugs produce a high that ends in a save lives. Learn CPR. Carry a dose of Narcan. Talk to 28 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Guest Commentary your kids and their friends. More importantly, listen to your kids and their friends regardless of whether you like what you’re hearing. The truth is often ugly and painful. Ignoring the truth is worse. Ignoring equals death, plain and simple. What else can be done? Most of you good readers are familiar with the Municipal League’s litigation efforts taken in conjunction with the Association of Arkansas Counties. As I’m writing this, the likelihood of a favorable settlement is beginning to emerge from the fog and rhetoric that accompanies most large cases. Litigation seldom completely solves societal problems. Those problems are solved by the commitment and work of people on the front lines. It starts with parents, teachers, counselors, doctors, friends, clergy…this list goes on and on. Together we can solve this opioid epidemic. Together we can help those with addiction. COVID-19 will have an injectable vaccine soon. The opioid vaccine isn’t in a tube with plunger and needle. We are the opioid vaccine. We need the dollars that a settlement may bring, for sure, but the reality is the citizens of this state have to fight this evil together. That and that alone will defeat this epidemic. We can win for Wells and every other person stricken with this plague and for every family and friend that is tortured by the loss of a loved one. I’ve written many, many things in my life, but this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. Strangely, there’s a small catharsis in seeing the words in black and white on my laptop screen. Not complete by any stretch of the imagination, but a start. Frankly, I don’t think my family as a whole or individually will ever be the same, particularly Alison. Mothers do indeed have a stronger bond to children. I’ve seen the anguish up close and personal. She suffers because she carried him for nine months and nurtured him from infancy to manhood. She was a great mom to Wells and is a great mom to Franz, Bliss and Colin. I need to give credit where credit is due. Alison helped me by proofing this. The reality, however, is that we co-authored this column. I’ve done nothing more than repeat the many conversations she and I have had during the past two weeks and likely will have for the remainder of our lives. As I conclude on this bright sunny day, I can see Alison and our dogs on our back deck. They are in the shade looking into the trees. It is a perfect day made for fishing or golfing, two of Wells’ favorite hobbies.
Wells and his sister, Bliss.
I think it’s a small sign from above. Wells is no longer tortured by addiction, and in that sunshine there is hope that we can defeat both the pandemic and the epidemic. As of May 5, 2020, the governor’s emergency declaration was extended 45 days. Several categories of businesses have been allowed to open or partially open including barbers and hair salons.
Leonard Nimoy portrayed Spock in the long-running TV and movie series “Star Trek.” Nimoy invented the Vulcan hand gesture by borrowing from a tradition in Orthodox Judaism. The hand gesture first appeared in the first episode of the second season of the original TV show in 1967. QZ.com, Baltimore Sun and Wikipedia.
The hand gesture of raising both the index and middle fingers is widely known as a sign of peace in the United States although in other countries certain variations are considered insults.
Wells Curry Bratton came into my life in 2007 when I married Alison. He and his sister became instantly close with my sons and as our relationships deepened I simply referred to them as my children. My three boys and my daughter. Legally, Wells was my stepson, but his mother and I raised him with his father, giving him three parents. Recently one of Wells’ friends described our family as the most “unblended blended family” she had ever seen. She meant that as a compliment noting that we were a family without notations of step or biological. Just a loving, caring family of six that is now down to five.
Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.
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The current pandemic, like the one in 1918, underscores the need for a good infrastructure system. That’s why voter approval of Issue 1 is so important. With its passage, the state along with counties and cities will continue to invest $290 million annually in construction and maintenance of bridges, highways, roads and streets, such as this one in Waldron in Scott County. (Photo by Bill Paddack) 30 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
Then & Now
Then & Now
The Critical Importance of Good Infrastructure to Hold Us All Together By Joe Quinn
A local leader in Arkansas, when asked about the value of adequate funding for roads and bridges, had this to say about communities working for this cause: “I wish to thank the people very much for their assistance rendered in this work, for we should all fully realize that good roads are the redemption of a poor county. Good roads, good schools and good society go hand in hand, and mean more pleasant and more profitable living, better qualified men and women, and better morals. Now, let us all get busy and do our part.” It is an appropriate quote as we head into the fall and look ahead to a sales tax extension on the November ballot that would mean millions for local roads. But the reality is that quote is from June 4, 1920, in Searcy County. Mr. A. Bell was a local highway improvement district official at the time, lobbying for roads to improve the quality of life in the county. Runs in the Family Arkansas Good Roads Foundation Vice President D.B. Hill recently found the quote. D.B. quietly devotes hundreds of hours each year to making our roads better. He works at Cranford Construction,
but in his limited free time he is fully engaged with Good Roads and other transportation-related organizations. D.B. has been in the asphalt and road building business for years. He cares about this state, and he never seems to care much who gets the credit when the right thing is done. D.B. Hill We need more people like D.B. who speak softly in angry times and care a lot about making their state a better place. D.B.’s father and grandfather before him were in the road business in Arkansas. His memory is that his grandfather helped build some of those Searcy County roads that Mr. Bell was excited about. When Bell made this comment, the country was only two years removed from the 1918 pandemic, and here we sit in 2020 during another pandemic. Pandemic Emphasizes Need What has not changed in the past 100 years is that good roads mean safer travel, reduced congestion and help business grow. What has changed in some ways is how we use those roads. D.B’s grandfather could not
“Improving our farm-to-market roads and our highway system overall is a goal worth our continued investment. Arkansas Farm Bureau wholeheartedly supports Issue 1 and urges a ‘Yes’ vote.” – Stanley Hill, Vice President of Public Affairs & Government Relations, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 31
Then & Now have envisioned a world where the grandfather helping to build new home delivery of groceries, online roads in Searcy County. shopping and people working from Good Roads members have home would only underscore the been proudly designing roads, need for good local roads. building roads, driving cargo on Trucks right now are carrying roads, making the products that $226 billion in goods shipped move on roads and putting together to and from the financing What has not Arkansas for roads for locations. In the changed in the past many years. next 25 years are proud 100 years is that We that number of this work good roads mean that has never is expected to increase by safer travel, reduced been more 90%. There are important as congestion and help 594,000 jobs in it is right now. business grow. The pandemic Arkansas created by tourism, underscores manufacturing, retail and farmers. the need for an infrastructure that Those industries need high quality holds us all together in tough times. roads to create economic value That hasn’t changed since the and jobs. That is as true today days when Mr. Bell was lobbying as it was in 1920 when a current for better transportation in Searcy Good Roads board member had a County.
“Arkansas’ highway system is the backbone of our economy. Our primary sectors – agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, education and healthcare – all depend on employees who commute to work, customers who drive to retail and service centers, and trucking service for raw materials and finished goods movement. Good, safe highways allow all that economic activity to grow and prosper, providing current and future career opportunities for our people.” – Randy Zook, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce President & CEO
w w w. p e t e r s o n c o n c r e t e t a n k . c o m 32 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
$40M Grant Is For Upgrades To Highway 67 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton – along with Congressmen Rick Crawford and French Hill – in June announced that the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) will be awarded $40 million to reconstruct and improve two sections of U.S. Highway 67 northeast of Little Rock. The project will widen U.S. 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program. “Arkansas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Highway 67 an interstatequality road. This major award from the Department of Transportation will help facilitate the ongoing upgrade of Highway 67 to meet interstate requirements. Completion of this project is key to encouraging economic development in neighboring communities,” said Boozman, Sen. John Boozman who authored the language to designate the portion of Highway 67 from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge as “Future I-57.”
Little Rock and cities across the state depend on continued dedicated funding, which Issue 1 will provide, for street repairs. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
“An interstate-quality road Highway 67 improvements to be system enables faster movement of undertaken in one project instead people and goods – an important of two. asset for any community. This “Our ultimate goal has been important investment from the to widen U.S. Highway 67 up to Department of Transportation Highway 89 but we’ve not had will make the towns of Northeast the funding needed to go that full Arkansas even more attractive distance,” ARDOT Director Lorie places to live, work or start a Tudor said. “The current completed business. I worked hard to help or planned widening ends at secure this grant for the Natural Highway 5 on the south side of State, and I’m pleased that Cabot, but this grant will allow us the administration is keeping to extend the six-lane widening to its promise to invest in rural Highway 89. America,” Cotton said. “Our plan now is to award Jacksonville to Cabot one project in late 2021 for all The grant will be used to the work between Main Street complete improvements to and Vandenberg Boulevard in Highway 67 between the Main Jacksonville, and the work from Street interchange in Jacksonville Highway 5 to Highway 89 in and the Highway 89 interchange Cabot,” she said. “That will save in Cabot. ARDOT officials say the money and it will decrease the grant will allow all the remaining overall impact to the motoring Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 33
Side Roads public. This grant is providing multiple benefits.” Hill said the “Future I-57” will enhance economic opportunities in communities throughout Central Arkansas by promoting commerce and encouraging job growth. “Improving infrastructure throughout the state helps all Arkansans and will bring more visitors in to enjoy our Natural State,” he said. Part of $906M in Funding U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao noted that this grant was part of a larger announcement to fund critical surface transportation projects across the nation. “This administration is focused on infrastructure improvements and this $906 million in federal funding would improve major highways, bridges, ports and railroads across the country to better connect our communities, enhance safety and support economic growth,” she said. “This INFRA grant puts us one step closer to I-57,” Crawford said. “This grant is the latest in a series of federal investments in Arkansas, and I applaud Secretary Chao’s leadership in ensuring rural America is included in the national infrastructure conversation,” Crawford said. “I want to thank our congressional delegation for their support and efforts in pursuing this grant,” said Arkansas Highway Commission Chairman Robert S. Moore, Jr. “The delegation has been very attentive to our needs here in Arkansas, and this is a great example of the success we can achieve when leaders at all levels of government work together
towards a common goal.” The newest member of the Highway Commission, Marie Holder of Little Rock, said she is very familiar with the congestion issues drivers face on U.S. Highway 67. “I may be new to the Commission, but I’m not new to Central Arkansas and I know the problems we face on that corridor,” she said. “The economic growth we’ve seen along Highway 67 has been tremendous, and improvements to the infrastructure are needed to support this growth.”
Construction Leader Steve Cranford Dies
Steven Michael Cranford, 63, of Sherwood, passed away June 23. He graduated from Little Rock Parkview High School and attended the University of Arkansas. After college he went to work Steve Cranford for Cranford Construction Co. In 1998, Cranford Construction was sold to McGeorge Contracting, where he continued to serve as president of the asphalt division. He spent his career in construction doing what he loved. He was currently serving on the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association Board and had previously served as president. He was inducted into the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association Hall of Fame in 2018. Cranford was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to the Arkansas State Contractor License Board
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in 2013 and reappointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2018. He was a longtime member of the Associated General Contractors of Arkansas. He had many hobbies. He loved Razorback sports, hunting, fishing and flying. He had his private and commercial pilot’s license. He loved spending time with family at his cattle ranch in Montgomery County and previously served on the Montgomery County Farm Bureau Board. He was recognized with his son, Jason, as farm family of the year for Montgomery County in 2017. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Lillian Cranford; daughter, Jessica Ellis (Brook); son, Jason Cranford; brother, Bryan Cranford (Donna); sister-in-law, Tracey Rosenau (Tim); two grandchildren; stepmother, Patricia Willbanks Cranford; and a host of nieces and other relatives and friends.
Arkansas Welcome Centers Open Again
Travelers can once again stop at Arkansas Welcome Centers. After temporarily closing March 20 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Natural State’s Welcome Centers opened back up to the public in early summer. To safely re-open, the centers are monitoring the number of visitors inside the building at one time, frequently cleaning restrooms and common areas, and requiring the use of face masks when a safe physical distance cannot be achieved. The centers are located at strategic points of entry on major highways and Interstates coming into the state. Twelve of the 14 are
Side Roads a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. One center, Mammoth Spring, is a partnership with Arkansas State Parks. All are staffed by certified U.S. Travel Association travel counselors. Welcome center staff share their expertise of Arkansas with more than one million travelers annually. Free Wi-Fi Each center offers free WiFi and interesting exhibits spotlighting local history. Complimentary travel magazines and guides, various brochures and highway maps are available to guests. Arkansas Welcome Centers are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and are closed on major holidays.
Decision Finalized On Noise Barriers
A single noise barrier from Redmond Road to the Main Street exit ramp will be built on the east side of Highway 67 in Jacksonville, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials. The noise barrier – approved as part of the completed project to widen Highway 67 between Redmond Road and Main Street – will be constructed with the project to widen Highway 67 between Main Street and Vandenberg Boulevard. Proposed noise barriers at four additional locations in Jacksonville – 11 different options – did not receive the necessary public support and will not be
constructed. ARDOT held a neighborhood meeting on Feb. 8 to take neighborhood input on the additional barriers. The four locations included areas along the east side of Highway 67 between Gregory Street and West Main Street and along the west side between North James Street and Braden Street and between north of Evans Drive and North 1st Street.
New Traffic Patterns On 555 at Jonesboro
Work to reconstruct Interstate 555 in Jonesboro requires new traffic patterns, according to ARDOT officials. In July, construction crews shifted traffic from the northbound Interstate 555 main lanes onto the southbound roadway. There will be
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Side Roads one lane of traffic in each direction separated by a concrete barrier wall until early 2021. This work will occur between U.S. Highway 49 (Southwest Drive) and extend eastward to State Highway 463 (Nettleton Avenue). Motorists will enter and exit the northbound lane using the newly constructed median ramps. This construction work is part of a $33.8 million contract awarded to Koss Construction to reconstruct 4.7 miles of Interstate 555 between U.S. Highway 63B and State Highway 18 in Jonesboro. The estimated completion date of this project is mid-2021. Traffic will be controlled by signage, traffic drums and concrete barrier walls. Drivers should
exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones.
Board Elects Joslin Port Authority Chair
The Little Rock Port Authority Board of Directors has elected Greg Joslin as chair. His term began in July and runs through June 2021. He was first appointed to the authority in Greg Joslin 2011. During his time on the board, he has served as treasurer, vice chairman
and chair of the internal affairs committee. Joslin is a senior broker at Colliers International Arkansas, where he handles brokerage; site selection and market analysis; acquisition and dispositions; and tenant representation roles for clients. His background includes work with Entergy Arkansas in the commercial and industrial major accounts group as well as experience in economic development, working in Entergy’s Office of Economic Development, the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and the Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, where he served as president and CEO.
Proudly Supports Arkansas Goods Roads Foundation 3592 Hwy 367 South Searcy, AR 72143 (501) 268-2359 www.cpcmidsouth.com 36 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2020
By the Numbers
A “Yes” vote for Issue 1 supports continued dedicated road funding. A “No” vote would reject this continued funding, thus reducing current funding levels for the Arkansas Department of Transportation and ALL cities and counties in Arkansas.
16,000 WHAT’S AT STAKE
Understanding the Impact of Issue 1 The northern segment of Arkansas Highway 220 runs from Arkansas 59 north to Arkansas 170 at Devil’s Den State Park. Issue 1 is all about continuing to build and maintain safe roads and bridges all across Arkansas. (Arkansas Parks and Tourism Photo)
Our state’s No. 1 industry. Farmers depend on safe and reliable infrastructure to get their goods to market.
Sound infrastructure is key to ensure we can compete for new jobs.
Our second largest industry. Accessible roadways play a huge part in attracting people to destinations.
Arkansas has more than 16,000 miles of highways to care for and ranks 40th in the country in dollars spent per mile.
With the passage of Issue 1, Arkansas will continue to invest $290 million annually in safer, better highways, roads, streets and bridges. Of which, $205 million goes to the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the $85 million balance is split between Arkansas cities and counties.
Issue 1 will provide $8.2 billion in economic activity over the next 10 years, support over 3,600 jobs, improve 7,000 miles of roads, and repair structurally deficient bridges WITHOUT RAISING TAXES. Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 37
Infrastructure Improvements AT THE PORT OF LITTLE ROCK
Officials gathered in July for a groundbreaking ceremony on new transportation infrastructure at the Port of Little Rock, celebrating the start of a $5 million project to widen and improve Zeuber Road to meet heavy industrial standards. In addition, the Port announced an additional $6 million in public infrastructure funds for additional road widening, intersection improvements and new road construction to accommodate increased transportation capacity needs. The Port of the Little Rock serves as a logistics hub for the area, having immediate access to rail, highway and waterway, and offering convenient intermodal shipping solutions. The Port is part of the 448-mile McClelland-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which runs from the Mississippi River northwest to 15 miles east of Tulsa.
“Now more than ever, it’s critical that our infrastructure keep pace with the growing demands of industry in Arkansas. The Port of Little Rock is a prime area for business. Once completed, the Zeuber Road project will be an important asset for businesses that require easily navigable infrastructure to support workforce and trade.” – Gov. Asa Hutchinson
“Home to over 40 businesses that employ over 4,000 people, the Port of Little Rock is the largest industrial hub in Central Arkansas. Those numbers are about to grow once again, proving that investments in infrastructure truly do promote economic expansion and job growth. I look forward to CZ-USA and Amazon’s contribution to the longterm development in the region.” – Sen. John Boozman
“The long-anticipated development and improvements to Zeuber Road will support the growing number of vehicles needing to safely access the Port. Having the necessary infrastructure in place is why companies like Amazon, CZ USA and HMS Manufacturing are choosing to invest and locate their operations in Pulaski County.” – Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde
“This is an example of new public infrastructure investments leading to new jobs for the residents of Little Rock. I am excited and grateful the Port of Little Rock will undergo these improvements, which will help our city recruit new companies as well as retain our current businesses.” – Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.
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GOVERNOR’S LONG TERM HIGHWAY FUNDING PLAN
It’s The People’s Transportation System –
On November 3, 2020, The People Get To Decide Many things have changed in our world in the year 2020, but our need for good highways has not. Arkansas’ roadways are one of the public’s largest and most important investments. As a transportation system stakeholder, we ask that you help ArDOT educate the public about what would happen if “Issue One” passes or fails.
Please visit www.ardot.gov/renew for information and resources.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF “ISSUE ONE” PASSES OR FAILS,
Fall 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 39
Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221
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Fall issue of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation's Fall 2020 Magazine.