GOOD ROADS The Award-Winning Magazine of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation
Workforce Challenges Facing Infrastructure World Foundation Good Roads. Good for All.
Hiring, Paying, and Retaining Workers in 2023
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.
4 From the Executive Director 6 ARDOT Opens Satellite Office in NWA 9 Future of Highway 412 10 Workforce Shortages 14 Education Key to Quality Workforce 16 Fort Smith Meeting Recap 18 Fort Smith Meeting Photo Gallery 21 Fort Smith Meeting Sponsors 23 Annual Meeting Date Announced 24 UALR Smart Mobility Grant 26 By the Numbers
Highway 412 Section Receives Future Interstate Status
Workforce Issues Impact Arkansas Infrastructure Industries
Good Roads Telling the I-49 Expansion Story
Save the Date: November 10, 2022
Grant to Develop Roadmap for Smart Mobility Initiatives
27 29 33 34
The Electric Vehicle Industry Has Been Heating Up Across the Country, and Arkansas is no Exception
Electric Vehicle Learning Curve Side Roads
Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP); TOPGOLF Coming to West Little Rock
Bobby Gene Hopper
Promotions and latest projects among AGRF member companies and organizations.
ON THE COVER: Promise Land Dr. overpass on Hwy. 70 East - Hwy. 7 North 5 in
Garland County. Photo courtesy of ARDOT.
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 3
Executive Director’s Message
Recruit, Hire, & Retain – Big Challenges for Arkansas Employers Joe Quinn, AGRF Executive Director
We are now almost two and a half years removed from ever. We cannot give employers or potential employees March of 2020, when Covid arrived, and life changed what they need if we don’t involve school districts in overnight. Most of us have now stopped wearing masks, how to better prepare young people for the day after and many people are back to going to an office every graduation. morning, but some things are simply different than they We finally stopped telling every young person that used to be. Some aspects of American life will never be they need to go to a four-year college, so now let’s quite the same. work together to provide them with knowledge about Near the top of this list, I would put workforce issues. where and how to look for high-paying infrastructure More people are still in some fashion working from or manufacturing jobs. Many jobs can be promoted on home, many simply did not return to the workforce, and websites and through social media, but young people are skilled labor is at a premium in all sectors of the economy. not going to find a website with job opportunities if they This is as much an issue in the Arkansas highway and don’t know where it is and how to find it. road building world as it is Years ago, I learned anywhere. something valuable from one There are a couple of of the smartest people I ever One thing we try to do with this magazine is to step issues right now that are worked for. He would close back occasionally and take meetings and conversations indisputable; everyone is a deeper look at some of the by saying, “What are you paying higher wages than most worried about right issues impacting Good Roads members. This month, we are now? What part of your job is they did three years ago, focused on labor and workforce the biggest challenge?” and everyone is struggling challenges facing the trucking There was a time in industry, engineering firms, to find the talent they need Arkansas when if you road contractors, and all the asked many employers to do the work. smaller businesses that supply that question, they would larger infrastructure-related mention tax issues. But now, operations. almost any business leader will immediately start to tell There are a couple of things right now that are extremely specific stories of how a skilled labor shortage indisputable: everyone is paying higher wages than they means gaps in the workforce and makes it tougher to do did three years ago, and everyone is struggling to find long-term strategic planning. the talent they need to do the work. It does not matter if a All of this matters a great deal to our Good Roads road construction company puts together a great proposal members and to the infrastructure community in general. and wins a complex bid if that company doesn’t have the But we can’t solve the problem if we don’t work together people needed to fulfill the work promised in the contract. in new ways to recruit, hire, and retain talent. The good news is that across the business community, Hope you are enjoying the cooler weather and the there is a much greater awareness that comprehensive arrival of football season. And as always…thank you for workforce development programs are more important than supporting Good Roads. 4 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
2022 EXECUTIVE BOARD Dan Flowers President D.B. Hill, III Vice President Bob Crafton Secretary/Treasurer Harold Beaver Graycen Bigger JoAnne Bush Curt Green Mark Hayes Lance Lamberth Robert Moery Shannon Newton Chris Villines Jim Wooten
Dan Flowers President North Little Rock
D.B. Hill, III Vice President Little Rock
Bob Crafton Secretary/Treasurer Rogers
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.
Harold Beaver Rogers
Graycen Bigger Pocahontas
JoAnne Bush Lake Village
Curt Green Texarkana
Mark Hayes Little Rock
Lance Lamberth Batesville
Robert Moery Little Rock
Robert S. Moore, Jr. Arkansas City (Non-Voting Member)
Joe Quinn, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Kathryn Tennison, Editor email@example.com Celia Blasier, Designer firstname.lastname@example.org Shannon Newton Little Rock
Chris Villines Little Rock
Jim Wooten Beebe
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 5
BY DAVID NILLES
Photos and map courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield and Sage Partners.
ARDOT Opens Satellite Office in Northwest Arkansas The Arkansas Department of Transportation has taken a big step in preparing for the future by opening a satellite office in Northwest Arkansas The Department’s new 5,560-square foot second home is located in the Lakeside Center at 1801 Phyllis Street in Bentonville and represents a proactive step in attracting engineering graduates from the University of Arkansas and the surrounding region. “ARDOT has always found it a challenge to hire and retain engineers, especially in our Design Branch, due to the competitive nature of the field of engineering,” stated Rex Vines, Deputy Director and Chief Engineer. “This began in a brain-storming session where we were discussing methods to improve our recruiting and retention. Necessity is the mother of invention... when the COVID pandemic hit, industry adapted, technology adapted, we had to adapt. In doing so, we learned that we could still produce our program, even if everyone wasn’t on-site every day. We learned how to communicate effectively through various formats that really shrank the world. This really expanded 6 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
opportunities that weren’t available just a couple of years ago. “There has been a huge migration to Northwest Arkansas in the last few years. It’s a great place to live and one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. There is much to do, it has beautiful scenery and still has much potential. We have heard multiple times that engineering recruits were interested in working for us but would much prefer to live in Northwest Arkansas. Most recruits understand that ARDOT is a great organization...some are just more interested in the opportunities available in Northwest Arkansas that may not be as available in other regions of the state.” Staffing for the new office will start small with perhaps five to ten employees from the Roadway Design and Bridge divisions. The Department will monitor how this works and make beneficial adjustments. A few staff members will be relocating to Northwest Arkansas as part of this effort. In addition to fulltime staff, ARDOT employees from around the state who are working in the area and need office space for a few hours will now have a place to get
ARDOT work done. “With a closer proximity to the University of Arkansas, we intend to incorporate engineering students more throughout the year to give them experience, allow them to get to know what ARDOT is really about and determine if they see themselves as part of our culture,” Vines added. As business gets underway in the new office, Assistant Chief Engineer of Design Mike Fugett will coordinate efforts on location. Advances in video communication over the past several years will make working with staff at Central Offices and Division offices around the state easy. “There isn’t a real necessity to have a full staff structure in the new office,” Vines commented. “With Zoom and other similar video programs that businesses adopted during COVID-19, we’ve found that work can be done successfully from remote locations such as this.” The new building will allow plenty of room for growth in the years ahead. “I expect that this expansion effort will be successful,” Vines shared. “I think it will be a win-win situation for the Department and for employees that want expanded options on where to live and work.
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 7
FROM 2018 THROUGH 2021,
WORK ZONE CRASHES INCREASED BY
We can all do our part to help. Work zone safety is everyone’s job.
For more information, visit:
8 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Future of Highway 412
Highway 412 Section Receives Future Interstate Status 412 lies between Interstate 49 in Springdale and Interstate 35, west of Tulsa. The section measures 189 miles in length. The Indian Nations Council of Governments in Tulsa passed a resolution in May 2021 seeking support from Oklahoma and Arkansas transportation departments, elected officials and the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission. Both ARDOT and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) expressed support for the proposal in a letter to Senator Jim Ihofe of Oklahoma. Senator Inhofe, and Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas then introduced a bill the same month to designate the route a future Interstate highway. According to the letter signed by Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation, and Lorie Tudor, Director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation,
“Northeast Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas share historic, geographic and economic interests and a future Interstate designation will improve economic development opportunities for both regions while providing the state DOTs with sufficient time to fully upgrade the corridor to Interstate standards.” ODOT has commissioned a study that will determine design needs for the route, access control for the roadway and future improvements required for Interstate designation. Phase 2 of the study will determine alignment changes that would be required. Significant portions of Highway 412 between Interstate 49 and Interstate 35 have already been designed and constructed to interstate standards (approximately 133 miles.) As part of the National Highway System, Highway 412 is designated a high-priority corridor from Nashville, Tennessee, to Tulsa.
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 9
10 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Workforce Issues Impact Arkansas Infrastructure Industries By Deborah Horn Drive-thru lines are long, service is slow, and shelves are often missing essential products. So, it’s not surprising to learn that in the Natural State, there are two vacant jobs for every unemployed person. In Arkansas, no sector of the economy is more impacted by labor availability issues than the transportation and infrastructure world. New funding means new opportunities, but finding the talented workforce that allows companies to take advantage of improved revenue streams is complex. The cause isn’t as simple as a single factor, but as the workforce shortage confounds and frustrates employers, experts report it’s a multitude of diverse, compounding problems that have pre-Covid roots, then amplified by the pandemic. The 2020 government-mandated shutdowns were followed by pent-up product demand and now record-breaking low unemployment rates. In almost every economic sector, employers can’t find enough workers. That’s according to Randy Zook, CEO and president of both the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas, who said, “It’s larger than an Arkansas phenomenon.” Randy Zook One major root cause, Zook said, is that “the baby boomers are aging out in record numbers, about 10,000 every day across America.” Most realized this would have a major effect on the workforce. However, the broad impact of the
pandemic was unfathomable. Many older employees, who might have worked another four to eight years, opted for earlier retirement. They went home and decided to stay there, he said. It’s an unprecedented rate of loss that’s exacerbated by the declining birth rate over the last several decades. According to U.S. Census numbers, annual births declined from 4.1 million to 3.7 million between the years of 1990 and 2019. It boils down to this fact from Zook: “We’re not adding enough workers. More confusing, we have a number of young males who are not employed, not in jail or in school, and not actively engaged in seeking work.” Also, he said, “Kids are delaying entry into the workforce. It’s not uncommon for them to take a gap year (a long break dedicated to travel or other activities) before finishing their degree or taking a job.” It’s a Wild Work World In some respects, the last two years have been an out-of-control roller coaster ride. Within about 12 months, the mass shutdowns and layoffs that marked early 2020 exploded into greater customer demand, accelerating job growth and severe employee shortages. This is reflected in job creation numbers. In July, after months of a trending uptick, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the American economy added 528,000 jobs. From January 2021 until this January, Arkansas added 24,000 new jobs, putting an additional strain on an already tight employment scene. Earlier this year, Arkansas hit an all-time recordFall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 11
Workforce Shortages breaking low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. Actually, that’s an average. Instead, the rates vary from region to region of the state; for example, in the northwest, the rate is about 2.8 percent, while it’s higher in the southeast. In Pine Bluff, the unemployment rate is estimated at 5.8 percent, while in Bentonville, it’s three points lower. Zook reported that almost every sector is struggling, from fast food and grocers to airline pilots and truckers. On the Road In Arkansas, the road construction industry was hit doubly hard, said Lance Lamberth, Good Roads Foundation Board Member and Atlas Asphalt Inc. Vice President. His company is headquartered in Batesville, with additional locations in Mountain Home and Jonesboro. They operate seven asphalt plants as well as White River Materials Inc. at Batesville and employ about 220, and still, they have jobs to fill. Lance Lamberth For years, ARDOT struggled with a stable yet adequate funding stream. In November 2020, voters approved a half-cent sales tax for roadway improvement. Annually, that’s about $206 million for the state, while counties and cities will split about $44 million each, Lamberth said. On top of this funding, the $1.2 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Bill passed about the same time. Over the next few years, Arkansas’s share is possibly $3.6 billion. That’s a lot of jobs to fill but it’s more than that. Lamberth said, “We’re going to invest an enormous amount of money in our roads, but we need engineers, asphalt plant operators, pavers, and drivers. Everyone is dealing with the same issue. We’ll figure it out, but we need more than warm bodies. The industry needs trained or skilled workers.” A New Generation Lamberth remembers his grandfather and Atlas Asphalt co-founder, Howard House, pointing to a guy who was working too slow, saying, “He needs to be 12 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
fired.” Now, Lamberth said, “I probably don’t have anyone to replace him with,” adding, “It’s a different day. People are looking for more than a paycheck. They want a career with respect.” ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor said, “I want the Department to continue the effort in becoming an employer of choice.” Employees are the foundation of any good organization, and Tudor wants “to continue to work to create an environment that feels like a family and employees feel valued and are grateful for their employment and continually strive for excellence.” On Aug. 24, ARDOT listed more than 20 vacant jobs online, from senior project manager and realty appraiser to welder and master electrician. Lamberth said it’s hard to know where to advertise job openings, so companies are using a variety of social media platforms. Delivery Delays The transportation industry is also struggling to fill driver positions, approximately 80,000 nationwide, said Shannon Newton, Arkansas Trucking Association (ATA) President. In Arkansas, it’s estimated at almost 500 open positions. “Trucking is a huge employer nationwide, but in particular in Arkansas where it provides one in ten jobs,” she said.
“We’re going to invest an enormous amount of money in our roads, but we need engineers, asphalt plant operators, pavers and drivers. Everyone is dealing with the same issue. We’ll figure it out, but we need more than warm bodies. The industry needs trained or skilled workers.” – Lance Lamberth, Good Roads Foundation Board Member and Atlas Asphalt Inc. Vice President
Workforce Shortages Without asphalt delivery drivers, the road construction industry would be at a standstill, Lamberth said. Even pre-Covid, driver shortage was the number one issue across the country; however, the pandemic forced the country to realize the importance of essential workers. The people who truck in the groceries and toilet paper, Newton said. This had a positive impact on the trucking industry, with more people signing up for driver training schools. For the moment, it’s making it easier for the industry “to tackle this issue,” Newton said. Like others, such as the manufacturing and construction industries, they’re offering higher wages, better benefits, and large signing bonuses.
Resources for Vocational/ Certificate Education Melissa Sigel, a Student Application Specialist with the Arkansas Division of Higher Education, said there are resources for people interested in vocational or certificate educational avenues. “There are two scholarships. The first is the Arkansas Workforce Challenge (AWC) scholarship, which is for short-term programs” in the industrial, healthcare, and technology fields, Sigel said. This scholarship can help anyone who has graduated high school—no matter when—pay for welding, trucking, and more certifications. It was created by the Arkansas Legislature in 2017, while the second, ARFuture, was recently funded. Like AWC money, it’s designed to increase the education and skills of Arkansas’s workforce. In addition to degreed math and science programs, it supports training and education in regional high demand areas of the workforce. Sigel suggested that anyone interested in pursuing training or certification should contact a college or school in your area and talk with a counselor about financial aid, or go to: https://explorearcareers.adhe.edu.
According to a 2022 ATA study that included fleets with more than 135,000 employee drivers and nearly 20,000 independent contractors, “the median truckload driver earned more than $69,000 in 2021, an 18 percent increase, and it also found that more than 90 percent of truckload fleets raised pay in 2021. For example, Newton said, recently, there was a flatbed driver with five years of experience position open in North Little Rock starting at $91,000. To sweeten the deal, many companies are doing away with long haul routes and going to more regional routes so they’re home with the families at night. “It’s easier to attract quality employees with more predictable hours,” Newton said. Lamberth said about the Millennials and Gen Z-ers, “We are dealing with a different generation” who expect better working conditions and a living wage. Like trucking, Lamberth said in order for the asphalt construction industry to remain competitive and retain quality employees, most companies have raised pay and enhanced benefits.
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Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 13
Education Key to Quality Workforce
Education Key to Quality Workforce By Deborah Horn
“Infrastructure is truly a catalyst to economic development and the creation of jobs. We want to create more jobs in Arkansas,” said Jerry Holder, Garver LLC Senior Vice President and Director of Transportation, in a 2020 Arkansas Money & Politics article. Holder still believes that to be true and important to the economic health of the state; however, two years later, he said, “We are almost at a point where employee shortages are keeping the economy from growing. That’s a bad thing.” Over the past 30 months, COVID-19 shutdowns and Jerry Holder working from home, as well as product delays, were difficult to maneuver, often disrupting the supply chain, sometimes in small and barely noticeable ways, while at other times large and grinding it to a halt. The road construction industry did not escape; but instead of going home, employees were classified as essential workers, so they pushed on, Holder said. These days, companies are still struggling to meet demands and deadlines during a year marked by workforce shortages. It’s no different for the engineers who put road designs to paper, Holder said. He has 36 years of experience, representing more than $17 billion worth of projects, and the company operates 41 offices in 15 states, with about 1,000 employees. “There’s so much work out there, but there’s not enough engineers to get it all done,” Holder said. In fact, he said, many engineering companies are having to turn down work. This is also happening on the construction side of the industry. Next year, Issue 1 starts footing the bill for much of Arkansas’s road work. Coupled with Arkansas’s possible $3.6 billion share of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Bill, this will undoubtedly create even more roadwork. At this point, Holder said, “We’re not getting that much extra concrete on the ground.” Lance Lamberth, Good Roads Foundation Board 14 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Member and Atlas Asphalt Inc. Vice President, said, “We’ve faced numerous issues since 2020 regarding materials, parts, equipment and more.” Like others in the road construction industry, Atlas Asphalt has job openings. The industry is at a critical juncture and needs to find a way to attract young workers, including college-educated, skilled, and unskilled workers. “We have to navigate these new issues and challenges and persevere,” Lamberth said. Holder noted that some of the educational groundwork to put engineers and other trained employees is already in place. Planning Ahead Of America’s current estimated 165 million jobs, only about 35 percent or 57.75 million require a college degree. However, according to the same Georgetown University study, another 30 percent, or about 49.5 million, will require some post high school education. “Not everyone needs a four-year college degree to succeed,” said Randy Zook, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas CEO and president. The workforce can only support a finite number, and other educational options shouldn’t be overlooked, he advised. It’s possible to find a fulfilling, wellpaying job that often brings home a bigger paycheck than many traditionally “educated” jobs. For those who aren’t interested in joining the “suit-and-tie” set, don’t overlook the value of technical or vocational education, and with the state’s recent legislative action, there’s money to help offset the costs. Zook said, there are plenty of career opportunities and great paying jobs, now and for the foreseeable future. Shannon Newton, Arkansas Trucking Association President, agreed with Zook’s assessment of the country’s need to align its college graduation rates with its employment needs. “There’s a real mix-match between degrees and jobs,” she said. Zook said, “You don’t have to go to a traditional college to have a good job.” For example, the Saline County Career Technical
Education Key to Quality Workforce
Education Center offers 10 different programs, such as construction and welding, while the Peak Innovation Center in Fort Smith offers classes in advanced manufacturing or computer integrated machining. These are often offered as a two-year package or a shorter certification or licensure program and are often closer to home and less expensive. The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton has technical classes that prepare students for the asphalt and earthwork moving industries. There are almost three dozen truck driving and diesel technology schools in Arkansas, and an individual can complete the truck driving training in four-to-six weeks. Charles “Connor” Tate, a Diesel Technology Instructor at Arkansas State University at Beebe, said his department has a working industry advisory board. “We are hearing of employee shortages,” Tate said. In response, they have tailored their diesel classes to cater to employer needs, and their program has grown three-fold over the last two years.
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 15
Fort Smith Meeting Recap
Good Roads Telling the I-49 Expansion Story Fort Smith Event Focuses on Region at the Heart of the American Supply Chain By Joe Quinn University of For two days in Arkansas at Fort July, the Arkansas Smith was the Good Roads largest gathering Foundation pulled the organization has together a unique hosted in close to 100 cross section of years of educating Arkansas leaders Arkansans about to talk about the the value of quality expansion of I-49 roads and bridges from Alma to in our state. It was Barling. More than also part of a long250 people gathered term strategy to put to talk about the together regional special nature of events outside of this new stretch Keith Gibson, Lorie Tudor, Daniel Mann, and Joe Quinn (Photo by Rusty Little Rock and host of interstate and the Hubbard, ARDOT) policy discussions that beautiful new bridge are an opportunity for Good Roads members to talk in over the Arkansas River that will be part of the work. Few projects in Arkansas history have ever been as greater detail about the work they do. While people often talk about the remarkable important to a whole region of leaders as the 14-mile story of growth and job creation in Northwest expansion of I-49 will be. The work will take years Arkansas, there has been less general awareness of to complete and will include the bridge that regional a set of specific circumstances in Fort Smith that are leaders have been talking about for decades. It will positioning the region at the very heart of the national impact parents traveling on local roads taking their children to school on a rainy morning, and it will save supply chain. Fort Smith is within an hour of two thriving time and money for truckers moving freight from airports; it sits beside the Arkansas River, which Missouri to New Orleans. moves billions of dollars’ worth of product each Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken says, year; it is connected to the interstate system; and “The completion of Interstate 49 from the junction railroad lines are plentiful. In short, this region’s rich with Interstate 40 in Alma to the portion of I-49 manufacturing heritage is attracting interest from new already completed in Fort Smith, including the bridge companies aware that in business, location can mean over the Arkansas River, will foster business and everything. housing growth in Fort Smith and Sebastian County.” At some point this fall, ARDOT is expected to host For Good Roads, this policy discussion at the 16 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Fort Smith Meeting Recap the first groundbreaking ceremony for the 14-mile I-49 expansion. In terms of community and regional interest and impact, the Bella Vista bypass opening is the only thing in recent Arkansas memory that will have impact on the same scale as the new section of I-49. The two projects are huge milestones for I-49 and for local economic growth. It is rare that one infrastructure project can have a local, state, and national impact. As ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor often says, “This is a project with a true national footprint. This is a significant expansion of the I-49 footprint and another step in connecting Kansas City to New Orleans. It will be a game changer for mid-America. We know there are a lot of unknowns right now with inflation, but best-case scenario we could be open in ten years.” Reese Brewer is with the Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization in Fort Smith. Brewer says, “This investment will prove transformative to the River Valley and the State of Arkansas. It not only improves traveling time for the public, and freight, but also serves as Reese Brewer the cornerstone to added industrial, commercial, and employment growth and development. In other words, I-49 is a game changer.” Unlike some community gatherings related to development and growth, on a sweltering July morning everyone at the Good Roads event was unified about how the new section of I-49 will grow the local economy. Arkansas Highway Commissioner Keith Gibson, who has deep roots in the community, was a driving force in putting together the day-long gathering. Gibson is a firm believer that the I-49 expansion will have long-term ramifications for the city and
region he loves. He says, “The positive impacts that I-49 will bring to western Arkansas in terms of economic growth and development, quality of life, and transportation safety are immeasurable.” During the Good Roads event, State Senator Mat Pitsch took highway commissioners on a tour of where a new intermodal port will be located on the Arkansas River as part of the project. The port will mean a significant increase in local river traffic and will attract new businesses that support barge traffic. State Senator Mat Pitsch The new bridge is being specifically designed to make it easier for barges to travel underneath it. Engineers designing the bridge are very aware that at any given moment, freight will be moving both on the bridge and under the bridge. Pitsch says, “Throughout history there has been only one true way to affect positive economic development and job creation, and that is to build transportation corridors. I-49, when completed, will be a dynamic economic development tool and a job creator for the state on the same magnitude as I-40.” To truly represent Good Roads members’ best interests, we remain committed to telling the infrastructure story in new ways. That involves more sophisticated methods, such as using targeted Facebook advertising to reach people in specific regions. It also means being strategic on how we can maximize the effectiveness of regional events. The Fort Smith community gathering was an exciting and impactful day for Good Roads, and a reminder that as we look to the future we remain strongly committed to events, publications, and digital strategies that keep our members’ issues visible and relevant in the public dialog.
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 17
Fort Smith Meeting Photo Gallery The Fort Smith I-49 policy event in July was the largest gathering ever of Good Roads members and friends. Elected officials, contractors, engineering firms, business leaders, and infrastructure advocates came from all over the state.
Dr. Terisa Riley, UAFS Chancellor; Lorie Tudor, ARDOT Director; Fort Smith Mayor George McGill; Daniel Mann, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority Executive Director.
Dan Flowers, AGRF President
John Blancett, HNTB Corporation
Joe Quinn, AGRF Executive Director
Natalie McCombs, HNTB Corporation
Curt Green, I-49 Coalition
18 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Ft. Smith Meeting Photo Gallery
Keith Gibson, Highway Commissioner
Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General
Rex Vines, ARDOT; and D.B. Hill, III, AGRF Vice-President
Fort Smith Mayor George McGill
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 19
Fort Smith Meeting Photo Gallery
Doug Kinslow, Mayor of Greenwood; Blake Gary, Arkansas Municipal League
Dan Flowers, AGRF President; Dr. Terisa Riley, UAFS Chancellor
James Montgomery, B&F Engineering, Stan Snodgrass, City of Fort Smith Director of Engineering; Mike Burns, Crafton Tull
Rex Vines, ARDOT; Lance Lamberth, Atlas Asphalt
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Steve Knobbe, HNTB; Marie Holder, Highway Commissioner
Lorie Robertson, Chaffee Crossing; Lorie Tudor, ARDOT Director; Michelle Dodroe, Crafton Tull
Harold Beaver, AGRF Board Member; Robert S. Moore, Jr., Highway Commissioner
Thank You 2022 Fort Smith Event Sponsors! Presenting Sponsors
Representative Jim Wooten Bronze Sponsors
D. B. Hill, III Friends
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 21
LOCAL CONTROL? Local decision-making. Citizen-centered solutions.
When it comes to local issues, we turn to our local leaders. Why? Local leaders are more connected to their residents’ needs and are more focused on citizen-centered solutions.
WE LIVE LOCALLY, SO WE SHOULD DECIDE LOCALLY. Local Control gives us the ability to decide which services we want and to solve problems at the local level. arml.org
#GreatCitiesGreatState #BeLocalBeHeard 22 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
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AGRF ANNUAL MEETING November 10th 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 W. 3rd St. Little Rock, AR 72201 Guest Speakers: Rex Nelson, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Politics and Roads Lorie Tudor, ARDOT Director, New Infrastructure Funding and Department Reorganization Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 23
UALR Smart Mobility Grant
Grant to Develop Roadmap for Smart Mobility Initiatives
Smart mobility is revolutionizing how we move goods and people. (Photo by Jared Sorrells, 4media group)
Reprinted with permission from the University of Arkansas.
A new planning grant will support the University of Arkansas’ vision of becoming the preeminent university in smart mobility. Smart mobility – autonomous, electrified, interconnected and shared – is revolutionizing how we move goods and people and will disrupt transportation sector business models. Now more than ever, it is easy to imagine how smart mobility innovation will transform traditional supply chains and change the way we travel, shop, work and build. The university’s targeted smart mobility innovation areas include: 24 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
• Next-Generation Vehicles: Many of today’s business models will become obsolete as advances in next-generation vehicles disrupt traditional supply chain operations. The need to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable approach to moving goods and services, as well as the increasing demands for more intelligent and safe means of transport, will spark innovative solutions in electric, connected and autonomous vehicles. • Unmanned Aerial Mobility: Sparked by increasing demand for faster delivery, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones as they are commonly called are expected to transform the logistics industry. These agile, remotely
UALR Smart Mobility Grant
piloted aircraft will disrupt the multimodal freight network and change how customers shop, retailers fulfill orders, warehouses manage operations and shippers provide logistics and transport services. • Artificial Intelligence for Smart Mobility: Information derived from new sources of smart mobility data can improve consumer and shipper experiences, support efficient logistics management and inform investment decisions. Artificial intelligence solutions for smart mobility will enable transportation system performance data collection, analysis and dissemination systems to reduce congestion and provide for efficient and accessible multimodal transport. Heather Nachtmann, professor of industrial engineering, associate dean of engineering and holder of the Earl J. and Lillian P. Dyess Endowed Chair in Engineering, is leading the campus-wide smart mobility planning effort. “As the emerging field of smart mobility progresses, it is critical to develop our comprehensive vision now to leverage our competitive edge in this rapidly evolving industry,” said Nachtmann. “We have all the critical components - strategic industry partners, an innovative ecosystem and worldrenowned experts. This planning grant will enable the university to elevate our existing capacity into a transformational vision to drive smart mobility workforce development and innovation.” Nachtmann was recently appointed to the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility. Chaired by Cyrus Sigari, co-founder of UP Partners, the council includes representatives from Walmart, Canoo, J.B. Hunt, Entergy, Arkansas Trucking Association, Arkansas Auto Dealers Association and multiple state agencies. Nachtmann will serve on the council’s Academic and Workforce Development Subcommittee. “Governor Hutchinson recognized Arkansas as the world leader in smart mobility when he formed this Council. I am honored to serve the State in this capacity and look forward to contributing to their important work,” said Nachtmann. The University of Arkansas is a nationally competitive research leader in smart logistics and
supply chain innovation and home to the highly ranked departments of industrial engineering in the College of Engineering and supply chain management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, along with a new interdisciplinary data science program. With more than fifty faculty who specialize in supply chain and transportation education and research, the university is actively engaged in private and public partnerships advancing smart mobility. As a key partner in the regional innovation ecosystem, the university, through the Division of Economic Development, works to create opportunities for economic prosperity through the commercialization of smart mobility innovations via new startups and spinouts. “This grant will provide a roadmap for the university’s – and Arkansas’ – drive to be the epicenter of smart mobility,” said Mike Malone, vice chancellor for economic development. “These technologies have the potential to transform traditional supply chains and business models. By aligning our talent, resources and programs with public and industry partners we will establish our state as the hub for smart mobility business, innovation and workforce development.” The planning grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation will span eight months and support efforts such as pilot research studies, industry and peer benchmarking, content marketing, and education and workforce development planning. About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3.7% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News. Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 25
By the Numbers
Electric Vehicles by the Numbers The electric vehicle industry has been heating up in the last few years across the country, and Arkansas is no exception.
In a short amount of time, the United States has amassed more than 100,000 chargers on the road.
According to the White House, united automakers and autoworkers have set an ambitious target for 50% of new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric.
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$7.5 Billion The federal government has promised to pour $7.5 billion into the country’s EV charging infrastructure.
Gov. Hutchinson has pressed for more EV installations, as the state is scheduled to receive $54 million over the next five years from the federal government for electric charging station infrastructure.
Electric Vehicle Learning Curve
Electric Vehicle Learning Curve By Joe Quinn In some ways, the conversation about building an infrastructure system in America to support electric vehicles seems straightforward, but in other ways it’s a more complex blend of nuanced political and policy decisions. On a busy Saturday afternoon in September in Rogers, an electric vehicle awareness event put together by the Northwest Arkansas Council attracted a nice crowd despite football on TV and a professional golf tournament a few minutes away. Rob Smith, the council policy director, said, “Right now there are about 3,100 electric vehicles in Arkansas. Forty percent of those vehicles are in just two counties: Benton and Washington. And of the 3,100 electric vehicles, 2,000 are Teslas.” Smith’s numbers indicate the growth of electric vehicles may be more tied to income levels in a region than to the availability of charging stations. But whatever is driving growth, the state needs to be taking steps to see that charging station infrastructure construction keeps up with electric vehicle sales. There are two elements to the charging dialog; how will people charge cars overnight in the family garage, and how will vehicles be charged away from home on longer trips? The easiest way for any home to be ready to charge electric vehicles is if the charging equipment is installed during construction. If it’s done then, sheet rock doesn’t need to be ripped out and rebuilt and new power lines don’t have to be run. A charging station being built into an under-construction home is essentially as simple as putting in a heavy-duty plug-
in equivalent to what it takes to plug in a dryer. Easy. Simple. Cheap. Charging while traveling is more complex. The federal government is pushing state highway departments to install charging stations along interstates. Andy Matson works for Francis Energy, one of the private companies looking for charging station locations in Arkansas. Matson said, “We lease the sites from landowners and install the charging stations. A roadside charging location will generally have the technology to charge faster. It can charge your car in 15 or 20 minutes, while a charger you would use in a hotel parking lot overnight might take longer to charge.” The landowner leasing the land to companies like Francis Energy would receive part of the profits from charging that right now costs drivers about 39 cents per minute. Currently, charging stations will ask you to swipe a credit card to pay, but it’s likely the system will gravitate to setting drivers up with an account that can bill their credit card automatically. ARDOT plans to put a charging station every 50 miles on interstates and locate the stations within a mile of an exit ramp. Some may think of gas stations and charging stations as competitors, but that is not likely to be the long-term reality. Given the choice between charging in a rural spot with just the charging station or charging in a convenience store parking lot, many people will likely choose the convenience store location. Convenience stores can sell you gas and have you on your way in five minutes, but if electric charging takes 15 minutes, you are more likely to get a slice Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 27
Electric Vehicle Learning Curve of pizza and a Diet Coke while you wait. This means convenience stores running small profit margins on gas can increase revenue by selling food, drink, or groceries while people wait 15 minutes to charge. The discussion about charging will likely change when convenience store operators shift to this new economic model. Roughly 70% of electric vehicle owners now charge their vehicles overnight at home. Utilities say the overnight charging is important because it pushes the vehicle charging out of the peak electricity use periods of 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on a sweltering summer day. A critical issue for utilities is reminding customers to help put less strain on the grid by staggering electricity use across different times of the day. It will take time for consumers in general to think through driving and charging issues associated with electric vehicles, but this is no longer a futuristic
discussion as automakers accelerate production to turn out more electric vehicles each year. Real change is coming whether we are ready or not. At the Saturday afternoon EV event, Jeremy Arents was with the team manning the Southwestern Electric Power Company booth, where they explained the basics of electric car charging to people who stopped by. Arents said, “We want to continue to help build the EV infrastructure and remind people how that helps with electric vehicles. We know our grid can handle the increased demands from the new vehicles.” From the big power companies looking at grid issues to gas station owners thinking about putting charging stations in the parking lot to help sell more burgers and soft drinks, the economic and policy ramifications of this new world will be a much larger part of the Arkansas infrastructure discussion in the coming years.
PETERSON CONCRETE TANK COMPANY 18010 MacArthur Drive • I-40 • Morgan Exit North Little Rock, AR 72118
BILLY PRUSS President
1-800-323-2540 • Plant: 501-851-1955 • Fax: 501-851-2290 E-mail: email@example.com www.petersonconcretetank.com 28 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Arkansas State Highway Commission Releases Statewide Transportation Improvement Program For Public Comment The Arkansas State Highway Commission is pleased to announce the release of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for Federal Fiscal Years 2023-2026. The public is invited to review and comment on the contents of this document through October 20, 2022. Download the STIP from the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) website at: www.ardot.gov/STIP. The projects listed are the state’s overall highway and transit programs and encompass all areas of the state. With respect to urban areas greater than 50,000 in population, Metropolitan
A rendering of the Topgolf venue planned for Little Rock (Shutterstock)
Planning Offices (MPO) are including individual projects in their Transportation Improvement Programs. Consult the MPO for additional information on projects located within an MPO area. This program is consistent with the Arkansas’ long-range plan and includes roadway, bridge, safety, intersection improvement, and transit projects. This document is prepared in response to Title 23 Untied States Code, Section 135 – Statewide Planning Requirements. Copies of the Draft STIP are also available by mail when requested through ARDOT’s Program Management Division at (501) 569-2262.
Topgolf Picks West Little Rock Site for New Venue
In August of 2022, Topgolf Entertainment Group announced that its Little Rock venue will be located in The Village at Brodie Creek, northwest of Colonel Glenn Road and Interstate 430. This new venue is expected to create roughly 300 jobs. A timeline of the construction has not been released yet. This will be the second Topgolf location in Arkansas; the first opened in 2020 in Rogers.
NOW PART OF THE CRAFTON TULL TEAM
928 Airport Road, Hot Springs AR 71913 | 501-767-2366 | www.bnfeng.com
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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 State Police Commission Arkansas Trucking Association Ash Grove Cement Company Association of Arkansas Counties/ County Judges Associated Builders & Contractors of AR Atlas Asphalt, Inc. (Jamestown Investments) B & F Engineering, Inc. Bank of Delight Blackstone Construction Bob Crafton 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 Contractors, Inc. 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 HDR Engineering Hines Trucking Inc. HNTB Corporation Horatio State Bank Hudson, Cisne & Company Hutchens Construction Company
Highway 248 west of Waldron on the way to Lake Hinkle, which is known for largemouth bass, catfish and crappie fishing. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
I-49 International Coalition Jack Buffington Jeffrey Sand Company Jensen Construction Company Jim Wooten JoAnne Bush Johnnie Bolin Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce
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Keith Gibson Kiewit Corporation Koss Construction Company LaCroix Optical Company Larco, Inc. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Lion Oil Company M & T Paving and Construction Co., 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. UCA Foundation University of Arkansas Upper SW Regional Solid Waste Management District Walmart Weaver-Bailey Contractors, Inc. Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority
Join Us, Please! Good Roads works with our members to tell the story of the need for funding and financing to help all communities develop, build and maintain roads and bridges. This drives the local economy and makes the roads safer for all of us. We have corporate and individual membership rates available. The award-winning Good Roads magazine reaches more than 1,200 key stakeholders. If you want to put your message in front of an elite audience of state legislators, mayors, county judges, Good Roads members, engineers and the companies that build roads and bridges, this is the best way to do it. This is the only in-state publication that offers you an easy way to reach this very specific audience. Arkansas Good Roads Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org 479-426-5931
Arkansas Good Roads @arkansasgoodroads AR Good Roads @ARGoodRoads
Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 31
Bridging the gap between idea + achievement Through smart infrastructure and high-performance buildings, we’re helping our clients push open the doors to what’s possible, every day. hdrinc.com
32 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
In Memoriam Bobby Gene Hopper
Bobby Gene Hopper of Springdale, Arkansas passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, on July 29, 2022, at the age of 89. He was born in Cotter, Arkansas on December 14, 1932 to William Eatman and Essie Thomas Hopper. Bobby served in the United States Army in Okinawa during the Korean conflict. Following his service, he returned to Arkansas, where he married Lois Oels from Mountain Home, Arkansas. They moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they had two children, Regina and Robert Hopper. In 1969, Bobby and Lois moved the family to Springdale, Arkansas, where he was one of a few young men chosen by Ford Motor Company to build a local automobile dealership, Bobby Hopper Ford. Thousands of customers, including founders and family members from the region’s Fortune 500 companies, came to know Bobby’s trademark phrase, “Don’t Say Ford. Say Bobby Hopper Ford!,”, on billboards and in television commercials. Working with Lois, he built the business and became not only a local business owner but a community, state and national leader. The list of Bobby’s service and leadership award accomplishments is long. He was a member of the Springdale Civil Service Commission, the Arkansas and the American Automobile Dealers Associations and the Springdale Rotary Club, where he also served as a board member and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow. Bobby also served as a board member of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, which honored him with lifetime membership status. Bobby also had a special interest in giving to the community, funding projects for the Springdalebased Northwest Medical Center and the Springdale Fire Department. He also provided land, to establish
a park for the Springdale Police Department, which was later turned into a baseball and soccer park for children’s sports. Bobby’s work on the state and federal levels resulted in economic and social development for northwest Arkansas, the state and the nation. He was appointed to the Arkansas State Highway Commission, by then Governor Bill Clinton in 1983, to fill an unexpired term. He was reappointed by Governor Clinton to a second term in 1989, for a total of 16 years of service as a commissioner. Bobby also served twice as chairman of the commission, first in 1987-1988 and again in 19971998. As someone who loved people, believing in leaving things better than he found them, Bobby’s dream was to bring greater and meaningful economic development for the people of the state and for northwest Arkansas specifically. He knew the region could be a global leader if the transportation system could support it. His dream was fulfilled with the opening of what is now I-49 and the dual tunnel, the first of the state, and he was honored when the Highway Commission chose to name it after him. Interstate 49 and its Bobby Hopper Tunnel, became the connection point for unprecedented economic expansion, not only in Northwest Arkansas, but throughout the three-state region. In addition to the tunnel, Bobby’s name is on the Sheid-Hopper bypass in Mountain Home and the Bobby Hopper Highway in Cotter. Bobby is survived by his wife, Lois of Springdale; children, Regina Hopper of Alexandria, Virginia and Robert Hopper of Cabot, Arkansas and his sister, Beverly Morton of Mountain Home. Fall 2022 | Good Roads Foundation 33
People, Projects, Promotions
Dwayne Cale was selected as ARDOT’s Assistant Division Head in the Materials Division effective July 2, 2022. Cale has a bachelor’s degree in engineering with an emphasis in civil engineering from Arkansas State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer. Cale worked for the Department as an Engineering Intern prior to being hired in June 2000 in a full-time position as a Civil Engineering Technician at Resident Engineer Office #61 in North Little Rock. After following the construction career path for several years, Cale moved to the Materials Division in April 2012 as a Staff Materials Engineer. He transferred to the Construction Division in July 2014 as a Staff Construction Engineer. He advanced to his current position of Assistant Construction Engineer in June 2020.
Roadway & Structures Site Prep Rock Excavation Overburden Removal
3592 Hwy 367 South Searcy, AR 72143 (501) 268-2359
www.cpcmidsouth.com 34 Good Roads Foundation | Fall 2022
Rochelle Blue has been selected as the Assistant Construction Engineer in the ARDOT Construction Division effective August 13, 2022. Blue has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University. She is a Registered Professional Engineer. Blue began her career with the Department in August 1996 as a Civil Engineer I in RE Office #23 in Pine Bluff. She followed the civil engineering career path and promoted to Resident Engineer in RE Office #32 in Hope in July 2002. She obtained her current position of Staff Construction Engineer in the Construction Division in March 2021.
Deric Wyatt has been named State Maintenance Engineer, effective August 27, 2022 Wyatt has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, with an emphasis in civil engineering, from Arkansas State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer. Wyatt began his career with the Department as an Engineering Student Intern in May 2002 and was hired full time as a Civil Engineer at Resident Engineer Office #05 in Osceola in December 2003. He followed the engineering career path, promoting to Resident Engineer in July 2010. He advanced to District Maintenance Engineer at District Seven in October 2013 and obtained the position of District Two Engineer in December 2015. In July 2021, Wyatt transferred to his current position of District Six Engineer. Transportation Connections is compiled by Good Roads Editor. Possible items for inclusion can be sent to email@example.com.
Beyond the design At Garver, our Transportation Team goes beyond by using cutting-edge technology to provide solutions that our communities need the most. That includes Kathryn McCoy and our dedicated Hydrology & Hydraulics experts, who make sure the infrastructure we rely on every day is ready to withstand any environmental challenge.
Kathryn McCoy, PE | Transportation Project Manager
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Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221
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