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Bridge Failure at Memphis Sparks National Debate
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Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
2021 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Bill Paddack, Editor email@example.com Celia Blasier, Designer firstname.lastname@example.org Robert S. Moore, Jr. Arkansas City (Non-Voting Member)
Shannon Newton Little Rock
Chris Villines Little Rock
Jim Wooten Beebe
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 3
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ARDOT Update: New Projects
A look by county of jobs that were recently approved by the Arkansas State Highway Commission; groundbreaking in Mayflower for railroad overpass.
I-40 Bridge Crack
Repairs ongoing on the Hernando de Soto bridge that had to be closed to traffic.
By the Numbers
University of Arkansas’ Rural Profile reports on the state of bridges across the Natural State.
Transportation Secretary Visits Pete Buttigieg arrives in Memphis for a firsthand look at the situation at the I-40 bridge.
Commentary: Bridging the Opportunity Gap
NEA Intermodal Executive Director Graycen Bigger on the importance of a good system of infrastructure.
Q&A: A Strong Advocate for Both Her Town and State
AGRF Executive Board member JoAnne Bush on her tenure as longtime mayor of Lake Village and why she values a safe and efficient system of roads and highways.
New feature takes a look at promotions and latest projects among AGRF member companies and organizations.
New Hardison Visitors Center is an added attraction at popular Arkansas state park.
New trails at Devil’s Den; USDOT chief science officer; Fayetteville renames two streets.
Leaders sound off on infrastructure and safe roads.
ON THE COVER: Repairs on a steel support beam on the Hernando de Soto Bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee are expected to take through at least July. The bridge will not reopen until the two-phase repair process is complete. (Tennessee Department of Transportation Photo)
4 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
SAFELY Share the Road Don’t add to the statistics. Visit: ardot.gov/sharetheroad
That’s how many PEDESTRIANS and CYCLISTS died in traffic crashes in 2019. If you drive, walk, or bike to your destinations, you are entitled to this life-saving information: GO with Care, and GET THERE!
As a motorist, commit to being alert and sharing the road with both pedestrians and bicycles. Watch for others and slow down. DRIVE with Care—Get There! As a pedestrian, give extra attention to your surroundings on busy roadways and intersections. Keep your head up, eyes open, and use the crosswalk. WALK with Care—Get There! As a cyclist, be visible and ride alert. Ride with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic laws. BIKE with Care—Get There!
Message brought to you by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office.
Highway Commission Approves Projects Here’s a list by county of jobs that were let by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and recently approved by the Arkansas State Highway Commission: Arkansas and Jefferson: Construct passing lanes on Highway 79 between Wabbaseka and Stuttgart, Phillips Hardy, Inc., Boonville, Mo., $17,496,155.99. Ashley: Resurface 18.6 miles of Highway 82 between Hamburg and Montrose, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Co., Pine Bluff, $4,549,264.52. Surface 3.6 miles of County Road 17 beginning near Highway 189, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Co., $485,460.25. Baxter and Marion: Resurface 10.4 miles of selected sections of Highway 62 between Flippin and Mountain Home, Atlas Asphalt, Inc., Batesville, $5,928,605.81. Benton: Overlay 4.8 miles of County Roads 16 and 354 between Highway 59 and Highway 102, Grant Garrett Excavating, Inc., Hot Springs, $649,341.77. Benton and Washington: Overlay 2 miles of various city streets in Springdale, APAC-Central, Inc., Fayetteville, $319,907.40. Boone and Carroll: Resurface 9.5 miles of Highway 65 in Alpena, Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc., Columbia, Mo., $3,949,500.
Orange barrels and cones will soon be in full bloom across Arkansas since the Highway Commission has recently approved bids for a number of projects. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
6 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
Carroll: Resurface 3 miles of Highway 412 east of Highway 21, extending toward Dryfork, APACCentral, Inc., Fayetteville, $1,138,368.99. Clay: Surface 1.1 miles of various city streets in Peach Orchard, Michelle’s Excavating, Inc., Brookland, $257,995.74. Crawford: Resurface 1.7 miles of Rudy Road in Alma, Forsgren, Inc., Fort Smith, $469,359.05. Crittenden: Resurface 15 miles of Interstate 55 between Interstate 40 and Interstate 555, APACTennessee, Inc., Jackson, Miss., $16,455,403.75. Resurface 2 miles of various city streets in Turrell, Crisp Contractors, Inc., West Memphis, $299,768. Cross: Resurface 1.9 miles of various city streets in Hickory Ridge, Asphalt Producers, Jonesboro, $264,899.80. Faulkner: Resurface 3.3 miles of selected sections of Highway 64 in Conway beginning near Highway 65B, extending east, Rogers Group, Inc., Nashville, Tenn., $2,293,403.52.
ARDOT Franklin: Resurface 1.9 Ouachita: Resurface 4.6 miles of Highway 23 near miles of Highway 79 between Ozark, Blackstone Construction, Highway 79B and Airport Road, Russellville, $663,275.03. Jet Asphalt & Rock Co., Inc., El Garland: Resurface 3.3 Dorado, $2,672,351.77. miles of Highway 270B between Perry: Reseal 2.8 miles Hollywood Avenue and Highway of County Road 30 between 270 in Hot Springs, Cranford Highway 155 and Casa, Salt Construction Co., North Little Creek Paving & Construction Rock, $1,734,208.23. Co., Benton, $165,573,12. Hot Spring: Resurface 4.6 Poinsett: Resurface 1.9 miles of Highway 270 between miles of various city streets in the Garland County line and Lepanto, Sugg Construction, Inc., Stone Quarry Creek, Cranford Jonesboro, $333,470.70. Construction work continues on the 30 Construction Co., North Little Pope: Resurface 1.2 miles of Crossing Project along Interstate 30 in North Rock, $3,057,928.46. Level and various city streets in Pottsville, Little Rock. (Photo by Bill Paddack) seal 6.1 miles of County Road 31 Blackstone Construction, near Highway 67, Salt Creek Paving Russellville, $260,968.48. & Construction Co., Benton, $266,910.61. Resurface 1 mile of East 16th Street in Russellville, Howard: Resurface 13 miles of selected sections Blackstone Construction, Russellville, $374,757.17. of Highways 27 and 278 in Nashville, Redstone Prairie: Surface 1.5 miles and reseal 6.2 miles of Construction Group, Inc., Little Rock, $6,111,800.89. various county roads in Prairie County, Salt Creek Izard: Resurface 3.9 miles of Highway 69 Paving & Construction Co., Benton, $315,680.97. in Melbourne, Atlas Asphalt, Inc., Batesville, Pulaski: Resurface 0.9 miles and surface 0.14 $681,016.68. Resurface 2 miles and surface 0.4 miles of various city streets in Wrightsville, M & T miles of various city streets in Pineville, Tri-Co, Inc., Paving & Construction Co., Forrest City, $267,509.08. Horseshoe Bend, $221,007. St. Francis: Replace one bridge on Highway Jackson: Level and reseal 10.4 miles and improve 1B, Robertson Contractors, Inc., Poplar Bluff, Mo., 1.1 miles of shoulders on County Roads 43, 74 and $1,894,755.50. 182, Sugg Construction, Inc., Jonesboro, $564,494.92. Sebastian: Resurface 6 miles of selected sections Lee: Resurface 0.33 miles and surface 0.73 miles of Highways 71 and 255 in Fort Smith, Forsgren, Inc., of various city streets in La Grange, M & T Paving & Fort Smith, $3,757,583.95. Construction Co., Forrest City, $316,908.60. Sharp: Resurface 0.7 miles of Industrial Road in Lee and St. Francis: Resurface 19.5 miles of Ash Flat and 1 mile of various city streets in Highway 1 between Haynes and Highway 306. APAC- Cave City, Atlas Asphalt, Inc., Batesville, Tennessee, Inc., Jackson, Miss., $9,319,451.78. $521,058.62. Lonoke: Replace one bridge with a reinforced Union: Resurface 4.6 miles of Highway 7 in concrete box culvert on Highway 38 over Mill Smackover, Jet Asphalt & Rock Co., Inc., El Dorado, Creek, Redstone Construction Group, Inc., Little $2,492,062.04. Rock, $1,119,117.87. Level and resurface 10.8 miles Yell: Overlay 1 mile of various city streets in of Highway 319 between Ward and the Faulkner Dardanelle, Blackstone Construction, Russellville, County line, CK Asphalt, Quitman, $2,781,885.74. $299,544.04. Place an ultra-thin bonded wearing Resurface 4 miles of County Roads 29 and 87, Rogers course on 2.8 miles of Highway 7 in Ola, Blackstone Group, Inc., Nashville, Tenn., $807,960. Construction, $899,750.63. Place hot in-place Nevada: Overlay and surface 0.65 miles of various recycling and microsurfacing on 5.7 miles of Highway city streets in Cale and 1.5 miles of city streets 10 east of Ola to the Perry County line, Dustrol, Inc., in Emmett, Smackover Paving Co., Smackover, Towanda, Kans., $1,011,420.26. $613,844.50. Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 7
GOOD ROADS ARE SAFE ROADS COMMUNITY RESOURCES The Arkansas Good Roads Foundation has created tools to help you remind your community why bicycle safety matters, and why bicycling is great for any local economy. There is no cost to use the materials. We also have a team that can join county judges or mayors on a conference call to get you started.
Logos, Banners & Images
Audio & Video Files
Documents, Posters & Infographics
Social Media Content Packages
Check out the website where the materials are waiting to help your community and then feel free to give us a call.
GoodRoadsSafeRoads.org For faster access, open your phone’s camera and hover over this code
8 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
ARDOT New Railroad Overpass in Mayflower Will Help With Daily Traffic Congestion Congressman, Other Officials Break Ground on Long-Awaited Project By Joe Quinn On May 25, ARDOT officials, state highway commissioners, legislators, the news media and members of the general public gathered in Mayflower to celebrate breaking ground on a new railroad overpass that local leaders have been lobbying for since before 1990. Congressman French Hill was on hand for the event and said that the day he was sworn in as a member of Congress, his first meeting was with Mayflower leaders advocating for the overpass. We all tend to remember specific things about the town where we grew up, and in Mayflower everyone has stories about the long waits sitting in traffic while trains pass, and sitting in traffic while trains simply sit unmoving. Three generations of local leaders say the overpass will be good for business, good for families trying to get kids to school and baseball practice, and make things easier for ambulance crews trying to move sick people through the downtown area. In 1997, the Metroplan Board made a commitment to build 12 new regional rail-grade separations. A rail-grade separation is a roadway that is re-aligned over or under a railway to eliminate hazards, improve safety and decrease traffic congestion. Mayflower has
been waiting patiently since 1997 and now becomes the 11th new rail-grade separation to break ground. In recent years Mayflower has dealt with a tornado and a massive Exxon pipeline spill that devastated several neighborhoods. The railroad overpass is a welcome piece of good news and called “transformational” by people who have lived in town for years. “This is a great example of the good things that can happen when federal, state and local officials really work together for the greater good,” Hill told the crowd at the event. The project’s funding came from ARDOT, Metroplan, Faulkner County and the City of Mayflower. Metroplan’s commitment has been a partnership with ARDOT partnering or funding five of the Officials break ground on a much-aticipated railroad overpass at Mayflower. (Photos by 12 projects. Joe Quinn)
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 9
Bridge Crack At Memphis
Dramatic I-40 Bridge Story Becomes Centerpiece of National Debate Over Aging Infrastructure By Joe Quinn Executive Director
10 Good 10 Good Roads Roads Foundation Foundation || Summer Summer 2021 2021
Listening to a 911 call on May 11, you can hear traffic and wind in the background, and a woman scrambling to a quieter spot so the operator can understand what she is saying. The woman calling Memphis 911 is an engineer with Michael Baker International, a Good Roads member. She is part of a team doing inspections on the massive I-40 bridge at Memphis that connects Arkansas and Tennessee. The call is probably the first of its kind ever. An inspector sees damage to a bridge that is so disturbing, and so real, she is standing on the bridge frantically asking police to immediately shut down traffic. The Michael Baker International team that spotted the rusted crack was working on a state contract to inspect cables on the bridge. The support piece in question is a 900-foot-long steel beam scheduled for annual inspection by Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) employees. Within hours, a complex infrastructure story involving Arkansas is becoming national news, and motorists who recently crossed the aging bridge are wondering if they were lucky that something far more catastrophic did not happen during their daily commute. With traffic flow shut off, ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor moves quickly to alert the public, the governor, the highway commission and congressional delegation. Her message is clear and honest. This is a “significant failure,” she says, “Thank goodness it was caught before a catastrophic failure, with loss of life.” In the early hours of the crisis, Tudor does what she will continue to do in the weeks to come. She does not shy away from discussing what ARDOT did wrong, what the department will do to fix the bridge and and how bridge inspection protocols will be improved. 40,000 Vehicles a Day This is not just any bridge. It’s not a rural county bridge used by a few school buses and farm equipment. It’s the I-40 bridge that runs over the Mississippi River connecting Arkansas and Tennessee. It’s a landmark for any Arkansan who has ever made the drive to Memphis for a football game, a concert
Phase 1 – stabilizing the Hernando de Soto Bridge to make it safe for workers to conduct permanent repairs – was completed on May 25. Workers attached steel plates to the sides of the fractured beam. In the second phase, the damaged piece will be removed and replaced. (Tennessee Department of Transportation Photo)
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 11
I-40 Bridge Crack or dry-rubbed barbecue on “If the additional Association. In a May 14 news Beale Street. There are few release Newton says, “Freight expense is prolonged, is like water. It will continue bridges in the United States that carry as much cargo, and it’s likely to be passed to flow. Our industry will as many trucks, as this bridge to make deliveries. along to consumers.” continue does. But if the additional expense - Shannon Newton, Arkansas Traveling from Arkansas is prolonged, it’s likely to be Trucking Association east on I-40, when the bridge passed along to consumers.” comes into sight, you know Newton estimates the bridge the drive to Memphis is almost complete. The drive is detour turned an eight-minute drive into an 84-minute legendary for generations of Arkansans. The highway drive. This cost equates to a daily expense of $2.4 from Little Rock to Memphis is full of heavy traffic million to a trucking industry already stretched thin and large trucks. It’s not a gentle or scenic drive. It’s with an economic recovery and nationwide driver not a trip where you put a podcast on and settle in to shortages. enjoy the view. On the day the crack was discovered, barge When the engineer asked 911 to shut off traffic traffic flowing under the bridge was halted. It is to the bridge, it meant 40,000 vehicles a day would becoming abundantly clear that one supply chain have to find a new route. It also meant roughly 13,000 problem can quickly cascade into another. Across the trucks would have to waste thousands of hours daily country, logistics companies trying to emerge from working their way through a detour. And it meant a an awful pandemic year have billions of dollars at national discussion about the infrastructure package stake as Washington tries to agree on a long-overdue President Joe Biden is sending to Congress is no infrastructure package. longer a distant or academic discussion. The story that On May 14, barges are allowed to again start American bridges and roads are aging rapidly now has passing underneath the bridge. At the same time, the a focal point, and that point is a green support beam University of Arkansas says in a news release that had with a crack in it on the Hernando de Soto Bridge. barge traffic been closed for much longer than three Jerry Holder runs the transportation division at days, the closure could have led to fluctuations in Good Roads member Garver. He’s managed road national agriculture and grain prices. and bridge projects for over 35 years and currently ARDOT does more than 10,000 bridge inspections oversees a large team of engineers working across 13 across the state each year. Each day 27 inspection states. When asked about his first thought after seeing teams are spread out across the state crawling over and the bridge news, he answered, “My first reaction was, under bridges. Some bridges are inspected every two I was glad it didn’t fall into the river. It could have years, but the Hernando de Soto Bridge is inspected been like the collapse in Minneapolis a few years every year because it is considered “fracture critical.” ago. This type of bridge can collapse if just one piece Holder points out that technology, design, construction breaks, it’s one of the reasons the design hasn’t been and safety approaches to building anything have used for many years. This would never happen on a changed substantially since this bridge was opened in new structure like the Broadway Bridge in downtown 1973. Little Rock, which has redundant support systems.” Day by Day Reaction Cargo Impact On May 17, Good Roads member company Kiewit On May 12, the day after the crack is discovered, Construction of Omaha is announced as the company ARDOT and the Tennessee Department of selected to manage the complex two-stage project to Transportation join with the Federal Highway repair the Hernando de Soto Bridge. Administration and Good Road member companies On May 18, Tudor testifies at a contentious Michael Baker International and HNTB to review the legislative hearing on the bridge crack. The same day, situation. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is in Memphis conducting a joint Good Roads Executive Board member Shannon news conference with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Newton is president of the Arkansas Trucking Marvin Childers, president of The Poultry 12 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
I-40 Bridge Crack Federation, a Good Newton points out she is “The answer we need is a Roads member, is worried about what the solution to these problems, situation is doing to West watching Arkansas elected officials jumping not who gets fired, or who Memphis, where traffic into the debate, and gridlock has become a very didn’t see that crack.” real everyday problem says people need to - Marvin Childers, remember that the state for drivers. Each day is better served fixing brings new local and state The Poultry Federation the problem, rather than ramifications related to the aggressively assigning shutdown. blame. “The answer we need is a solution to these On May 22, the first sign of progress comes. A problems, not who gets fired, or who didn’t see steel company in Bowling Green, Ky., has finished that crack,” he says. “The fact the bridge cracked is the work on steel plates that will be used in the initial terrible. The fact no one had looked at hours of drone bridge repair. They are loaded on trucks and brought footage frame by frame is not terrible. How do we fix to Memphis where the installation work begins. The it? That’s where our focus needs to be.” plates will be attached to the support beam around the Childers was a respected lawmaker early in his crack to make it safe to put heavy equipment on the career, a young attorney who had a close working bridge that will be needed to do the longer term repair relationship with the Arkansas State Police. He was work. seen as an advocate for resources the police needed, On May 24, ARDOT releases the internal memo but now Childers says those practical, working that recommended termination of the bridge inspector. relationships between legislators and state agencies are The memo says that inspections in September 2019 mostly a thing of the past. and September 2020 failed to mention the crack On May 20, ARDOT confirms the bridge inspector “despite documented evidence that a severe crack who oversees the annual inspection of the bridge had existed … The crack was visible and would have been fired for failing to spot the crack in previous been discovered if proper fracture critical inspection inspections. The inspector, Monty Frazier, was procedures were followed.” responsible for the inspection of nine large bridges On May 25, the first phase of the repair is across the state. ARDOT moved quickly to inspect the completed when the support beams brought in from other eight bridges in Frazier’s job description. The Kentucky are fully installed. department also sent information about the case to the On May 28, ARDOT announces that HNTB and U.S. attorney to look at possible criminal aspects of ARDOT have signed a contract for HNTB to do a the situation. more sophisticated inspection of the bridge. The University of Arkansas Engineering Department Traffic Gridlock has suggested full ultrasonic examinations of all the By May 21, the I-55 bridge is serving as the welds on four major support beams. Also on May 28, primary detour route over the river. Both Tennessee ARDOT announced that U.S. Transportation Secretary and Arkansas officials brought inspection teams to that Pete Buttigieg will come to take a firsthand look at the site to make sure the bridge could handle the vastly bridge on June 3. increased traffic flow. That same day Tudor was back at the Capitol answering questions from legislators. What’s Next? Tudor said no problems have been found with the I-55 The federal infrastructure package would provide bridge after both Tennessee and Arkansas inspectors money for repairs and upgrades to 10,000 bridges, had looked at it. She said the department is reviewing but right now the White House and Republicans in everything associated with how Arkansas bridges are Congress are debating whether some of the funding inspected and that “we are doing everything we can to in the massive package is really infrastructure related. restore confidence in our program.” That political debate will drag on while engineers in That same day Newton was in Memphis as part of Memphis start the serious repair work. a group of state leaders meeting with federal officials. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Rex Nelson Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 13
I-40 Bridge Crack structurally deficient. writes extensively about “We are doing considered Perhaps the surprising thing about Arkansas politics and culture. everything we can the rusting crack on the Hernando He understands life along the de Soto Bridge isn’t that the break county roads that run through to restore confidence happened, but that with 46,000 small Arkansas towns. Places in our program.” bridges in bad shape nationwide, with legendary barbecue - Lorie Tudor, we haven’t seen more stories like joints where locals gather to talk politics and Friday this. Arkansas Department The I-40 bridge was opened night football. But he also of Transportation when Richard Nixon was president understands that the Little and the average cost of a new car Rock to Memphis run on I-40 in America was $4,052. Millions of cars and trucks is a critical part of the flow of commerce across the have been rumbling over the bridge 24 hours a day nation. Nelson says, “The Memphis area is the distribution for more than 48 years. Every single minute of every hub of America. It’s really a national security issue. day, vehicles send vibrations through the outdated structure. Providing proper funding for infrastructure – roads, We are well past the point where we can act bridges, ports, river transportation and more – must be a priority for the federal government and all 50 states. surprised when we see tangible examples of the national infrastructure falling apart. Although ARDOT We have too much deferred maintenance.” Arkansas is by no means alone in having to pay the has clearly said standard bridge inspection procedures price for years of deferred maintenance. The American were not followed, that doesn’t change the fact the infrastructure is aging at an accelerating rate. Society of Civil Engineers says there are 617,000 bridges in the United States and 46,000 of them are Straightforward Approach Two weeks after the crack was discovered, ARDOT Director Tudor takes a few hours away from the crisis to speak at a groundbreaking for a new railroad overpass in Mayflower. The project will alleviate traffic problems that have existed for 30 years due to passing trains. It’s a victory for local leaders, and they are glad to have Tudor at the event. After the ceremony Tudor talks about her honest approach to fully accepting responsibility for what happened in West Memphis. “There really was no other way to do this,” she says. “We had to be very clear that the process failed and the department will not hide behind any excuses. We will fix the bridge and fix our systems.” Last year, Arkansas voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax extension to fund road and bridge repairs for years to come. In a politically charged climate, the measure sailed to victory in 72 of 75 counties. Maybe Arkansas voters who are aware of infrastructure failures at the state and local level could see a situation like this coming. Hopefully, Washington is paying attention to the gridlock in West Memphis, the standstill traffic on the I-55 bridge and the rusted crack in a support beam high above the Mississippi River. 14 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
By the Numbers
Rural Profile: Arkansas’ Bridges The University of Arkansas has released a 2021 Rural Profile of Arkansas. It found that there is no major difference in the general condition of rural bridges vs. bridges in urban areas, but the highest number of bridges in poor condition is in the Delta. Here are some other findings related to bridges, which vary a great deal in size and cost to maintain.
The bridge over the Arkansas River on State Highway 23 at Ozark in Franklin County. (Arkansas Parks & Tourism Photo)
12,902 51% The number of state, county and city bridges in Arkansas.
The percentage of bridges that are in good condition. Of the remaining, 44% are in fair condition and 5% are in poor condition.
More than half of the bridges in poor condition are located in the same 14 counties.
The percentage of bridges in urban areas, but these account for 47% of the total surface area of all the bridges in the state.
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 15
I-40 Bridge Crack
Good Roads Member Companies Working To Repair I-40 Bridge As Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Arrives for Firsthand Look at the Situation By Joe Quinn Executive Director MEMPHIS – Traffic approaching Memphis on I-40 is all being routed over the I-55 bridge because of the crack in a support beam on the big bridge. The irony is that the I-55 bridge is actually older than the I-40 bridge that has become the national centerpiece of the infrastructure discussion because of the crack found on May 11. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has come to get a firsthand look at the bridge damage and take part in three events in a tightly scheduled day. He starts with a roundtable policy discussion at Federal Express Corporate Headquarters, then dons a hard hat for a photo op tour of the bridge and wraps up his day holding a news conference in a tourism building on the riverbank near the bridge. The location of the news conference creates a beautiful, sweeping backdrop of the bridge framed against a bright blue sky. The event is well attended, with more than a dozen television cameras set up to hear from the former presidential candidate. National Magnitude What’s clear is that Buttigieg is not pointing fingers. He is gracious and repeatedly praises the coordination of federal, state and local officials to reroute traffic and repair the bridge. Buttigieg says, “It’s important that we restore this vital connection because of the national importance involved. Everyone has been working quickly and safely to address the problem. “There has been good management of the situation across states, party lines and transportation departments. This situation has impacted huge freight companies like Federal Express and small family owned trucking companies equally.” 16 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addresses the media after touring the I-40 bridge. (Photo by Joe Quinn)
The secretary also reminds the audience that the bridge issue is just one small piece of a much larger problem. He says, “We have 45,000 bridges in this country that are in poor condition, and those bridges handle more than 175 million vehicles per day.” West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland remind the crowd that Buttigieg is a former mayor and that means he fundamentally understands what it’s like to have to “get things done.” They point out he knows a crisis like this means mayors are dealing with all the local ramifications of the traffic congestion created by the closure. But the real news of the day comes from Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation Clay Bright when he tells the cameras, “We can hopefully reopen the bridge in July, but the work may go into August. We hope to have a specific reopening date very soon. Nothing matters more right now than the safety of the repair crews working on the bridge and then the safety of the drivers who use the bridge once we reopen.”
I-40 Bridge Crack Secretary Sees Good Roads Members Working The Buttigieg visit is a reminder that Arkansas Good Roads Foundation members are at the heart and soul of the massive effort to get the repair and inspection work done professionally and safely. Our member companies have long understood the issues associated with an aging American infrastructure, while many people in the United States are only just now thinking about infrastructure as a result of the bridge failure. The plates that were brought in from a Kentucky steel company to stabilize the bridge to make the permanent repairs are 150 feet long and each took 3,000 bolts to lock in place. Good Arkansas State Highway Commission Chairman Robert S. Moore, Roads member Kiewit Construction is working Jr., speaks to the media after the news conference with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Joe Quinn) on the project around the clock and as the news conference moves along, teams from the Good be before reopening day arrives. Roads member HNTB Corporation are on the The Arkansas Trucking Association is also a bridge doing a more sophisticated examination of longtime Good Roads member, and President Shannon everything below street level. Teams from Good Newton has been quoted in news coverage from Roads member Michael Baker International are inspecting the support beams and arches on the bridge day one. She has framed her analysis not only on the impact to trucking companies, but the impact on above street level. The news conference brings home communities. just how complex the inspection and repair work will Arkansas Highway Commission Chairman Robert S. Moore, Jr., is at the event and tells reporters, “The teamwork has been great here. This is a sad day that brings us together, but a good day to take real steps to guarantee safe travel in the future.” Moore’s small-town Arkansas roots show as he does one-on-one interviews with local reporters after the news conference. He is conversational and relaxed as he talks about what ARDOT is doing to deal with the situation. The congressional debate over what the infrastructure package should look like now centers on Republicans and Democrats having differing views on what should be considered infrastructure. Everyone Providing superior materials and service for nearly 50 years. seems to agree the basics of road and bridge work should be included, but there are differing opinions on • Industrial Sand • Concrete Aggregate • Rip Rap whether items like broadband expansion belong in the • Slurry • Ballast • Seal chips massive package. • Crushed Stone • Asphalt Aggregate • Roadbase The political discussion is complex in some ways, but sitting in standstill traffic on I-40 on a Thursday Patrick Sullenger, Sales Manager morning is a simple reminder that something has to 501-490-1535 / email@example.com be done. For convenience, for safety, for national P.O. Box 138 / Sweet Home, Arkansas 72164 / gmqrock.com security, for the movement of freight on barges, trucks and trains … it’s clear that incidents like this will continue if we don’t stop deferring work on 50-yearold structures.
Rock-solid Resources. Real-world Results.
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 17
From the Governor
The Critical Importance Of Infrastructure Investment By Gov. Asa Hutchinson We were all alarmed to learn about a significant crack in a beam that supports the I-40 Hernando de Soto Bridge, which connects Arkansas and Tennessee. Inspectors found no other problems, and now that the repair has begun, we can breathe easier. I am grateful inspectors found that crack and prevented a catastrophe. I’m also thankful that Arkansans passed Issue 1 last year to keep the half-cent sales tax for road construction and maintenance. That investment provides continued state funds for the inspection and repair of our highways, roads and bridges. We’ve been hearing much talk recently about infrastructure. Congress is negotiating an infrastructure package with President Biden. Some of the discussion focuses on exactly what qualifies as infrastructure.
Today, our attention is on our transportation infrastructure and the bridge that crosses the Mississippi River between West Memphis and Memphis. The bridge opened in 1973, and the Arkansas Department of Transportation has retrofit it for earthquakes. About 41,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. Since we discovered the cracked beam, we have closed the bridge and rerouted traffic to the I-55 bridge, which opened in 1949. Bridge inspectors from Arkansas and Tennessee inspected the bridge after we closed the DeSoto bridge and found the I-55 bridge to be safe. The company that is repairing the bridge has bolted steel plates on each side of the cracked beam and hung the platforms that will support the repair crews.
Vital Investment We don’t know how long the bridge will remain closed, but the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation said on June 3 that the repairs may not be completed until August. The closure has caused delays that are costing the trucking industry $2.4 million a day. That’s just one of the costs when we have to shut down a piece of the infrastructure that connects our nation. This near disaster illustrates how interdependent we are. It also illustrates the urgency for states to be proactive in maintaining infrastructure. That is why Issue 1 was so important. Our investment in highways provides Arkansas the resources to inspect roads and bridges and to keep them in good repair, and to respond quickly to emergencies. Everyone knows we need good roads for our daily lives. We also know that maintaining safe roads is expensive. I am grateful that Arkansas voters were willing to approve the money that will allow us to keep our The I-55 bridge is serving as the primary detour route over the Mississippi River. roads and bridges safe. Partnerships Necessary In my view, infrastructure includes highways, roads, airports, ship ports, power grids, water supply, communication systems and now the broadband system. Infrastructure requires partnerships between the private sector and government, and cooperation between state government and federal government.
(Photo by Joe Quinn)
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Beyond the design. At Garver, our engineering experts go beyond project designs and conference calls. That includes Transportation Project Manager Jeff Webb, who knows the real work gets done alongside the municipalities that make our state home. For more than two decades, he’s delivered the solutions Arkansans need today – and beyond.
Jeff Webb, PE Transportation Project Manager
Summer 2021 | Good RoadsGarverUSA.com Foundation 19
Bridging the Opportunity Gap
By Graycen Bigger, Executive Director, NEA Intermodal It’s no secret that good roads are vital to community growth. A well-funded, well-maintained highway and road system is vital to all types of industry, from manufacturing to tourism, and impacts all areas of commerce. As the executive director of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal, I see first-hand how important infrastructure is to industry recruitment, jobs and overall economic health of rural areas. The NEA Intermodal is a regional economic development alliance serving Randolph, Lawrence, Sharp and segments of Clay counties, which is home to an aggregate 66,000 Arkansans. Communities in our footprint range in population from a few hundred residents to nearly 7,000 in Pocahontas. While advocating for infrastructure is at the core of our mission, our initiatives include everything from industry recruitment and business retention to workforce development and quality of life. Why do we put infrastructure first? Historically, communities have always grown based on their relationship to infrastructure. First, it was water. Then it was roads and rail. Now, it is broadband and largescale interstate systems connecting areas of trade to air transport and densely populated metros. Greater Access to Markets With today’s philosophy of “money follows traffic,” there is a disproportionate impact on rural parts of our state. Drive through any small town in Arkansas, which collectively support our largest industry of agriculture, and you’ll find the roads in disrepair. Smaller populations mean limited funding and years of unwanted, delayed maintenance. It’s not unusual for these communities, especially in the corners of the state, to be located 50 miles or more from a designated interstate. Available industrial sites in the NEA Intermodal footprint, for example, are 20 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
currently located anywhere from 22 to 73 miles from I-555 in Jonesboro. That has a tremendous impact on both recruitment of industry and talent. A well-maintained road system signals to potential businesses that a community invests in itself and cares about the needs of employers. Proximity to interstates and air transport means greater access to markets and lower cost of doing business. Rural communities often lose important economic development projects because they simply don’t have the infrastructure to support the needs of large employers. They are too far from major interstate roads or don’t have the available funds to incentivize local improvements. However, roads influence small businesses and large industry alike. In addition to recruitment, transportation impacts the ability of agriculture and manufacturers to get goods to market and affects small businesses and tourism’s ability to entice customers to visit. Road, Bridge Maintenance While tourism is a significant source of revenue for the Intermodal area thanks to the abundance of lakes, rivers and hunting ground, agriculture makes up nearly 80 percent of all economic activity in a majority of the footprint. This is not unusual for rural communities throughout Arkansas, which has an annual agricultural output valued at $21 billion. The NEA Intermodal footprint, alone, is made up of more than 940,000 acres of agricultural land divided amongst 2,300 farms. Randolph County and the surrounding area is also home to more than 1,000 poultry houses and grow operations for Peco Foods, Inc., and Vital Farms, which are responsible for more than 2,000 jobs and more than 82,000 local truckloads of goods each year. This means maintenance of secondary, or farm-to-market roads, is critical. It is also a consistent challenge for municipal
and county officials charged with maintaining the underresourced road budgets. The greatest concern for local officials in Northeast Arkansas is currently bridge maintenance. ARDOT’s District 10, which is headquartered in Paragould and serves Randolph down to Mississippi County, has more bridges than any other district in the state. It is also home to the worst bridges in the state. Bridge over the Black River in Randolph County. Bridge maintenance is a big concern for In 2020, the district was forced to close seven bridges Northeast Arkansas officials. (Arkansas Parks & Tourism Photo) along secondary roads due This project is especially important to economic to safety issues. Most were built in the 1950s and development in the rural communities of Northeast ’60s and victims of limited funding and delayed Arkansas. While the final route isn’t expected to be maintenance. With an estimated 100 “structurally announced until the spring of 2022, the final leg of deficient” small bridges in need of repair throughout the interstate will connect Chicago to Dallas with the the district, that would come at an estimated price tag Intermodal area as the midpoint. of $75 million. If route two is chosen, Pocahontas and Corning For anyone involved in government, this is not a will be within two to three miles from the interstate. surprising revelation. Bridge maintenance is common This is good news for an area that has already seen challenge throughout the state for both rural and metro a significant increase in truck traffic in recent years. areas. From small, county-owned farm bridges to I-30 Large trucks traveling Highway 67 between the two in Little Rock, bridge maintenance is a multi-billion communities make up approximately 32 percent of dollar state challenge. There is not a community in all traffic, while Pocahontas is currently seeing daily Arkansas that has enough revenue to keep up with traffic counts up to 23,000 vehicles. That is high for a bridge needs. rural community with a population of less than 7,000. The I-57 corridor will allow for additional industry Connecting Through Issue 1 recruitment opportunities and help existing businesses Despite all the challenges associated with 2020, deliver goods more efficiently. It will also open one bright spot for the state was the passage of Issue opportunities for talent recruitment, new housing and 1 in the November election. Not only did it establish population growth. consistent, critical turnback funds for local roads and Simply put, it is going to connect industry in streets and $1.1 billion for bridge preservation, it Northeast Arkansas and make the entire region more also re-upped and expanded the Connecting Arkansas competitive. It will also signal decades of growth for Program (CAP-2). The CAP-2 program, valued at $1.8 our rural communities. billion, will fund over 20 high-profile projects across the state and positively impact a number of rural areas. The NEA Intermodal is an economic development The Intermodal footprint, which benefitted from organization and ARDOT partner that serves Clay, the Highway 412 widening in the first program, Lawrence, Randolph, and Sharp counties. Formed in 2009, will also see significant improvements in the second its mission is to create employment opportunities through iteration. Approximately $50 million has been the recruitment, expansion and retention of industry. One of the Intermodal’s top priorities is to advocate designated to widen the corridor between Cave City for infrastructure improvements because it understands and Independence County. There is also $180 million earmarked to complete the I-57 project to the Missouri that roads, water, energy and broadband access are foundational to development and quality of life. state line. Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 21
Q & A: JoAnne Bush
JoAnne Bush (clockwise from top) receives the 2008 Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police Mayor of the Year award from Lake Village Chief Percy Wilburn, joins granddaughter Emilee Anne Bullerwell at an event with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, gets a hug from her husband, retired First Lt. Eddy Bush, and is one of three generations in a family picture with her daughter Whitnee Bullerwell and Emilee Anne. (Photo courtesy of AEDC.)
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Q & A: JoAnne Bush
A Strong Advocate for Her Town & Her State
JoAnne Bush, AGRF Board member and former Lake Village Mayor, on road improvements, work-life balance, tourism and those famous tamales. By Bill Paddack While compiling 46 years of service to Lake Village – including 28 as mayor – along with duties and responsibilities on the state and national levels as well, JoAnne Bush has received enough awards and honors to fill up a fishing boat on her beloved Lake Chicot. These include: • Rural Advocate of the Year Award by the Arkansas Rural Development Commission along with the Arkansas Department of Rural Services (20042005). • Arkansas Municipal League Ambassador Award (2002). • Arkansas Delta Byways Tourism Association Tourism Person of the Year (2010). • Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police Mayor of the Year (2008). • Lake Village Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year (1983 and 2001). • Arkansas Literacy Councils’ Win Rockefeller Leadership Award (2008). • Arkansas Municipal League Lifetime Membership (2018). Along the way, the lady who began her public service as the Lake Village municipal clerk has served as president of the Arkansas Municipal League (2009); been a member of the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System Board under three governors and the first woman to serve on the board and the first woman to chair it, bringing her own “unbending sense of honesty and fair play” to that institution; and served on National League of Cities committees as well as on the boards of the Southeast Arkansas Chief Elected Officials, the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, the Southeast Arkansas Solid Waste Board and the Arkansas Delta Byways. But anyone who knows her knows the former longtime Lake Village mayor would rather talk
about the achievements and recognition the city has received. These are just as numerous. Lake Village was recognized as Volunteer Community of the Year by the Arkansas Department of Tourism and Gov. Mike Huckabee in 1998 and it won the prestigious Henry Award for Community Tourism the same year at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The Arkansas Wildlife Federation 2004 Conservation Organization of the Year was won by Lake Village’s Lake Chicot Citizens Advisory Committee for outstanding contributions to the wise use and management of the nation’s resources. And the city has been awarded the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness Award for its exceptional leadership in physical activity and health. JoAnne is married to retired First Lt. Eddy Bush and has a daughter, Whitnee Vencill Bullerwell, sonin-law, Mike Bullerwell, and a granddaughter, Emilee Anne. She also has two “bonus” daughters, Beverly and her husband Keith Aaron, and grandson Collier Bush, and Amy Saunders and husband Brent and grandson Jack and granddaughter Sophie. We recently asked about her time as mayor, why she values a safe and efficient system of infrastructure and what are some things we should know about Lake Village, the county seat of Chicot County. Why is it important to invest in our infrastructure? It is important to invest because infrastructure plays such a vital role in community viability and community resiliency. Many small, rural communities across the nation are struggling with aging infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated infrastructure woes for some communities with loss of revenue, loss of businesses and loss of population base as citizens seek employment elsewhere. Balancing the need for infrastructure improvements Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 23
Q & A: JoAnne Bush with the desire to make other municipal enhancements is important, especially as we consider quality of life for our community members. I encourage municipalities to invest in infrastructure when possible to foster community and economic development opportunities. The “backbone” of our communities is good infrastructure!
for the growth of our municipality, I am most excited that we also secured pedestrian sidewalks along the entire expansion. These sidewalks are a huge built environment asset and contributed greatly to the walkability of our community. Pedestrian and motorist safety are of utmost importance and I encourage this complete street effort when possible.
How does a small town mayor deal with road issues, and what are your road and street memories? Road improvements are always a discussion among small town mayors. We often find innovative ways to invest in road improvement efforts. Strapped budgets can sometimes present a challenge when allocating dollars for such improvements; nonetheless, roads remain important for community and economic development. Business retention and recruitment and citizen satisfaction are directly linked to road improvements. I feel it is vital that road improvements be considered as a priority if we want to advance our communities and our state. That’s why the recent passage of Issue 1 was so important. It will ensure continued funding for improving our roads, streets and bridges. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Arkansas Department of Transportation, the Good Roads Foundation and all the other organizations and individuals who worked so hard in achieving voter approval of Issue 1. One of my favorite road improvement memories in Lake Village is the expansion of U.S. Highways 65 and 82. While this expansion was very important
What are you doing to stay busy these days? Just as when I was in office, I have been balancing my personal life and professional commitments. I remain active as a member of the Arkansas Good Roads Executive Board and was recently appointed to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission. I volunteer my time in the community. My family keeps me very busy as a wife, mother, sister, MeeMee and caregiver for extended family members. During the pandemic, our family like most had to pivot and I was able to assist my granddaughter, Emilee, with her educational activities. I have always enjoyed spending time with my family and viewing beautiful Lake Chicot from the rocking chair on my front porch. These days, in light of everything our society has been through in the last year, I am a little more grateful for those sweet moments in time.
JoAnne Bush can attest that the fishing is great on Lake Chicot.
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How about promoting Lake Village a little? If we’re headed down your way, what are some places that would make a good lunch or dinner stop? The classic answer here is to stop at Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales for lunch. She has been featured in numerous magazines and television shows and was named as an inaugural member of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. Her menu includes tamales, of course, but she also serves up some amazing pies and offers a traditional Southern plate lunch. She has everything from greens and yams to beans and cornbread. I recommend her half-and-half pies – they are amazing. Lake Village has some great dinner options, including Charlie Mae’s, La Terraza, Kowloon’s Chinese Restaurant, Fox’s Pizza Den (amazing steaks on Friday and Saturday nights), Table 82 at The Cow Pen, Sweet E’s and Hel’Katz BBQ. I love food from all these places so it is hard to narrow down my favorite recommendations. I cannot pass the opportunity to brag about our medical facilities. For a small town, we have excellent health-care opportunities, and I am very proud of them. Chicot Memorial Medical Center is a 25-bed
Q & A: JoAnne Bush critical access facility that is rated as a Level IV trauma center. A dental clinic is located within the hospital. Connected to hospital is a freestanding rural health clinic, which is owned by our local doctors. We have seven health-care practitioners. We also have the Southeast Rehab Hospital, which is located adjacent to Lake Village Rehab.
“I encourage municipalities to invest in infrastructure when possible to foster community and economic development opportunities. The ‘backbone’ of our communities is good infrastructure!”
While we’re on the subject of visitors and tourism, how about telling us a little about Lake Village and what role tourism plays in the Lake Village economy? Tourism is an important economic driver for any – JoAnne Bush community. Investing in tourism efforts and working to market your community can have substantial return This 30,000-square-feet building situated at the end for your region. Lake Village is fortunate to have so of town is a shopper’s mecca! Paul Michael Company many attractions, drawing tourists from all over the has everything from fine decorative accessories, Delta and beyond. seasonal items, furniture and rugs to the famous Lake Chicot is our grandest feature and is known “Scratch & Dent” room. Paul and Debbie Michael factually as North America’s largest oxbow lake and built their retail empire from their office on Main the largest natural lake in Arkansas at approximately Street Lake Village. Initially, they sold jewelry to 22 miles long. Lake Chicot is known recreationally as Dillard’s stores across the south and then branched out the Home of Good Fishing. We are very fortunate to to shopping showcases across the country. Now, they have the Lake Chicot State Park, which is situated in have four retail stores in addition to their home base one of the largest flyways in the country, making it a in Lake Village: Monroe, La., Canton, Texas, Dallas perfect place for birdwatching. The park also features and Round Top, Texas. Whether you are looking 14 cabins and 122 campsites along with indoor for the perfect custom-built chandelier or exclusive pavilions, a great swimming pool and levee tours. hand-thrown dishware or simply looking for specialty Lakeport Plantation, established around 1859, is ribbon or unique packaging supplies, you will find a historic antebellum plantation located near Lake it all at Paul Michael Company. Their inventory is Village. Lakeport was among the leading cotton constantly changing and, the best part, their store is producers in Chicot County in 1870 and was named to pet friendly! I encourage you to stop in and shop! the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Many restoration efforts were undertaken in 2003 and 2008 and it now functions as an Arkansas State University Heritage Site Museum. Live tours are currently available on the hour every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Paul Michael JoAnne Bush is surrounded by members of the Lake Village City Council and friends in December Company is an absolute 2018 after receiving a key to the city in recognition of her 28 years of service as mayor. (Photo Courtesy of the Chicot County Spectator) gem for Lake Village. Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 25
People, Projects, Promotions Crafton Tull recently kicked off a 15-month process to create the master plan for the Central Arkansas Regional Greenway. In February 2020, Metroplan committed $55 million over 10 years toward the implementation of a regional pathways network connecting Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, and Lonoke counties. Crafton Tull is partnered with Toole Design on the project and will identify routes, establish design criteria, and prioritize investments based on public input. Alec Farmer, vice chairman of the Arkansas State Highway Commission, has been named to the board of directors Alec Farmer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Farmer, from Jonesboro, is the president of Farmer Enterprises, a familyowned farmland and property investment management company. David Howard of Koss Construction Co. has been elected board chairman of the National American Concrete David Howard Pavement Association (ACPA). One of his duties is to guide the selection of a replacement for the retiring ACPA president, Jerry Voigt.
Cyclists cross the Arkansas River on the Clinton Presidential Park bridge at sunset. Crafton Tull has started work on a Central Arkansas Regional Greenways plan.
Rex Vines, S Stephen who started with Frisbee has been ARDOT as a named assistant civil engineering chief engineertechnician in operations at 1993, became ARDOT. He has a the department’s bachelor’s degree deputy director Rex Vines Stephen Frisbee in civil engineering and chief engineer from the University on April 10. He has a bachelor’s of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is a degree from Arkansas State registered professional engineer. University in engineering with an emphasis in civil engineering and is a registered professional engineer. Jeremy Evans has been Roger Wilson named sealing job has been selected superintendent as ARDOT’s for the District 7 area maintenance sealing crew. He supervisor for the began his career Jeremy Evans District 8 Pope with ARDOT in County crew. He July 2000. Roger Wilson started work for ARDOT in 1995.
Transportation Connections is compiled by Good Roads Editor Bill Paddack. Possible items for inclusion can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 26 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
One of the largest transportation bond issues in recent memory was on the ballot in Bentonville on April 13. With an incredibly low turnout, voters said yes by a wide margin and gave a green light to $173 million in funding for road improvements. Continued growth in NWA makes it more complex than ever for local leaders to keep up with traffic issues. This significant bond issue on a local ballot was a reminder that when we talk about road and bridge funding, it is as important to pay attention to the local decisions as state elections and issues.
The State Chamber’s Be Pro Be Proud truck.
The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Be Pro Be Proud truck was parked outside the state Capitol on April 8. A number of state senators and representatives took the time to walk through the truck, which is filled with hi-tech, interactive displays that show
young people job opportunities in manufacturing and transportation. The program is attracting national interest as a unique way to connect young people looking for good jobs with employers looking for a quality workforce.
James Morris has been named the area maintenance supervisor for the District 9 Carroll County maintenance crew. He has been with ARDOT since 2003.
Steve Peyton has been selected as ARDOT’s assistant division head for the bridge division. He has a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas and is a registered professional engineer.
Roadway & Structures Site Prep Rock Excavation Overburden Removal
Ryan Herndon has been named the area maintenance supervisor for the District 5 Independence County crew. He has worked at ARDOT since 2003. Ryan Herndon
3592 Hwy 367 South Searcy, AR 72143 (501) 268-2359
www.cpcmidsouth.com Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 27
Join Us, Please! Help Good Roads promote adequate funding and financing for the planning, development, construction and maintenance of a safe and efficient system of streets, roads, highways and bridges. Sound infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. We have corporate and individual membership rates available.
Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221 WWW.ARGOODROADS.COM 479-426-5931
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New Visitors Center, But Same Great Views At Petit Jean State Park
Take State Highway 154 at Oppelo to head to Petit Jean State Park.
The Dr. T.W. Hardison Visitors Center was dedicated in April. It is named for the man whose vision for Petit Jean State Park brought about its creation as the cornerstone of state parks in Arkansas. A life-size foundry-cast bronze figure of Dr. Hardison was sculpted by artist Andrew Jumonville. (Photos by Bill and Barbara Paddack)
A true Arkansas treasure, Petit Jean State Park in Conway County features spectacular, breathtaking views.
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The park is home to a variety of wildflowers, including purple spiderwort.
“It is a privilege to dedicate this building in honor of the man whose vision was the seed for our system of Arkansas State Parks. Anyone who has ever hiked a trail, fished in a lake or pitched a tent at one of our 52 state parks owes Dr. Hardison a debt of gratitude.” – Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Bronze figure of Dr. T.W. Hardison.
Inside the exhibit gallery at the visitors center, guests can learn about wildlife, nature, the park’s unique geology and, of course, Petit Jean.
928 Airport Road Hot Springs, AR 71913 Phone: 501-767-2366 Fax: 501-767-6859 E-mail:email@example.com Website: www.bnfeng.com AN ARKANSAS FIRM PROVIDING QUALITY CIVIL/STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING AND SURVEYING SERVICES SINCE 1972 Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 31
Designations Honor Former Coach, World War II Hero Fayetteville – in collaboration with the University of Arkansas Black Alumni Society – officially renamed two city streets on April 16, honoring former Razorback men’s basketball coach Nolan Richardson and local war hero Leroy Pond Both Nolan Richardson Drive and Lt. Col. Leroy Pond Avenue were unveiled at back-to-back ceremonies. Former Razorback athletes including several of Richardson’s former players such as Oliver Miller, Todd Day, Corey Beck and Kareem Reid were in attendance as was the Hogs’ current basketball coach, Eric Musselman. The new Nolan Richardson Drive, formerly Leroy Pond Drive, is located along the south side of Bud Walton Arena connecting Razorback Road and Stadium Drive. The new Lt. Col. Leroy Pond
Avenue is now located in place of honored with the naming of the the former Government Avenue road leading to the Fayetteville connecting Martin Luther King National Cemetery. Pond was Jr. Boulevard and the Fayetteville a World War II veteran who National Cemetery. participated in D-Day and was The idea to honor the Hall of honored with a Silver Star, a Fame basketball coach was brought Purple Heart and other awards for forth by Fayetteville Councilman his bravery in battle. He was later D’Andre Jones after discussions wounded in Germany and passed with the University of Arkansas away in 1945. Black Alumni Society and others on campus. The Fayetteville City Council approved the name change at a meeting on March 16. Richardson was 389-169 in 17 seasons as Arkansas head coach. He led the Razorbacks to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a national runner-up finish (1995) and the 1994 NCAA Former Razorback basketball star Todd Day championship. helps unveil the newly named Nolan Richardson Drive. (Photo: Walt Beazley/Arkansas Athletics) Pond’s legacy is now
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For the First Time in Over 40 Years
USDOT Appoints Chief Science Officer On April 21, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it was appointing a chief science officer for the entire department for the first time in over four decades and had taken several additional steps to act on the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to address climate change. USDOT also announced that it had begun work to reestablish its Climate Change Center and had made significant strides to restore public access to climate-related reports, program information and other scientific and technical information. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has designated the assistant secretary for research and technology as the department’s chief science officer. Robert C. Hampshire, Ph.D., is currently acting in this role. In his role as chief science officer, Hampshire will serve as the principal advisor to Buttigieg on science and technology issues. He is charged with ensuring that USDOT’s research, development and technology programs are scientifically and technologically
“The re-introduction of a chief science officer underscores transportation’s key role in addressing the complexity and criticality of our dynamically changing climate.” – Dr. Robert C. Hampshire
well-founded and conducted with integrity. He was previously associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. ‘Build Back Better’ “Climate resilience and environmental justice are at the heart of this administration’s mission to build back better – and that effort must be grounded in scientific expertise,” Buttigieg said. “We’re thrilled to officially name Dr. Hampshire as our chief science officer, and look forward to his contributions to this historic effort.” “The re-introduction of a chief science officer underscores transportation’s key role in addressing the complexity and criticality of our dynamically changing climate. I look forward to working across all modes of transportation to address the immediate concerns, and to ensure our future transportation system is sustainable,” Hampshire said. “It is important that USDOT incorporate scientific research to advance climate change initiatives that are fair and equitable to all.” The department’s actions stem from the president’s executive order on protecting public health and the environment and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis and the presidential memorandum on restoring trust in government through scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking.
Traffic on Interstate 30 at sunset. (ARDOT photo)
the transportation sector in moving toward a net-zero carbon emissions. The center was established during the Clinton administration to serve as the multi-modal focal point for information and technical expertise on transportation and climate change, but it has been dormant since early 2017. The department has assessed public websites and information repositories, including the National Transportation Library, and identified 24 websites and 33 reports and other publications that had been de-published after Jan. 21, 2017. All of these materials have been restored to public access. The transportation sector is the number one producer of greenhouse gases in the U.S., which underscores the ability of the transportation industry and the department to quickly and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gases and address the climate crisis.
Addressing Carbon Emissions The Climate Change Center will help coordinate the department’s related research, policies and actions and support Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 33
Former Professor Of Civil Engineering At UA Passes Away
New trails at Devil’s Den State Park offer access to more areas of the park to hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. (Arkansas Parks & Tourism Photo)
Trails at Devil’s Den Are Part Of Latest Expansion of System Arkansas State Parks recently dedicated the latest expansion of the Monument Trails system with 12 miles of new trails at Devil’s Den State Park at West Fork. With support from the Walton Family Foundation, these trails, combined with the newly refurbished Fossil Flats trails, bring Monument Trails’ total mileage at Devil’s Den to 18 miles. Devil’s Den State Park is home to some of the oldest mountain bike-specific trails in the state dating back to the construction of the Fossil Flats Trail in the late 1980s. It was refurbished in 2020. “The inclusion of Devil’s Den State Park in the Monument Trails system is the bridge that connects our state’s remarkable history of mountain biking with the future of the sport,” Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst said. Rock Solid Contracting of Copper Harbor, Mich., is responsible for constructing all 12 miles of new trails that feature extended crosscountry routes along bluff drip lines, behind waterfalls and through remote areas of the park that were previously inaccessible to park visitors. “Much like the Monument Trails at Mount Nebo State Park, the rock work that defines these world-class trails is reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps construction that created the first facilities in these parks,” Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann said. 34 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
University of Arkansas professor emeritus and alumnus Miller Ford, 92, passed away peacefully in his Fayetteville home on March 26. Miller Ford Ford earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at UA. After receiving his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University, Ford came back to teach at the university until he retired in 1992. “Miller was a consummate teacher; whether in the classroom, the lab or the hallway, he loved sharing his knowledge with his students,” said Kevin Hall, a former student and current professor and associate dean of research. “I always admired – and try to emulate – his ability to talk with a variety of audiences,” Hall said. “Miller could just as easily talk the intricacies of asphalt materials with high-level colleagues as explaining how a pavement is built in a nonengineer public meeting. For many, many years when you thought of asphalt pavements and Arkansas, you thought Miller Ford. He had a lasting, profound impact not just at the university, but on the entire industry throughout the state.”
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Education Representation Partnership Unity And more! More information at: www.arasphalt.com Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 35 Summer 2019 | Good Roads Foundation
ROADS LEAD TO WHAT’S IMPORTANT. It’s not just about getting from Point A to Point B. It’s about having the freedom to get out there, live your life, and make memories happen. At Ergon, we’re proud to deliver the right paving, preservation, and maintenance and solutions designed to keep your road networks safe and strong. Because you have places to go and people to see. Don’t let inferior road conditions get in the way of life’s adventures.
36 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
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 Association 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 Development 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. Marie Holder 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
Summer 2021 | Good Roads Foundation 37
“It not only creates jobs, but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world if we have the best infrastructure.” – President Joe Biden
“The citizens of Bentonville have “Rural infrastructure again shown their support for improving and expanding our is a critical facet of economic growth and street infrastructure as well as quality of life for those citywide drainage, emergency who live in rural and services, parks and library.” – Bentonville Councilman Chris Sooter after residents of tribal communities. the city on April 13 approved a bond issue that will provide All Americans rely $266 million to spend on streets, parks and other projects. on safe roads to go about their daily lives, and in rural areas, dangerous roads often cannot be avoided. Investing Road improvement equipment is a common site in the Bentonville area. (Photo by in road safety has Joe Quinn) significant potential to “Much of our infrastructure in Arkansas and throughout the country is overdue for an save lives.” – Congressman Bruce update, and I have a well-established record of Westerman, R-Ark., who on advocating for and helping advance bipartisan April 13 with Congressman legislation to accomplish that. I remain ready to Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., do that in a wise and cost-efficient way because introduced the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant infrastructure investment is a priority.” Program Act of 2021. – Sen. John Boozman 38 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2021
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Insight, innovation and imagination drive us to rethink the future of infrastructure, helping clients navigate their most complex mobility challenges and making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work. The HNTB Companies Infrastructure Solutions hntb.com
Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221
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The latest issue of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation Magazine for Summer 2021.