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Winter 2018

GOOD ROADS The Magazine of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation

Governor At Annual Meeting

Hutchinson Reiterates Support for Highways Quinn: Quality Roads Should Matter to All Member Profile: AAC’s Chris Villines

Foundation Good Roads. Good for All.

YOUR RESOURCE FOR EVERY ROAD. We are proud to be your go-to roadway resource. Let one of our specialized team members assist you on your next project, and find the answers you’re looking for today.

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Letter From the Executive Director

Highways, Jobs, Education, Quality of Life; It All Ties Together Joe Quinn Executive Director

In Northwest Arkansas, it’s common to hear people mutter, “Traffic is really bad today.” It’s not unusual for people to delay their departure from work to drive at off-peak hours. The inability of the local infrastructure to keep up with population growth sometimes is as much of a topic as the Razorback offense. In the Arkansas Delta, farmers operating heavy equipment know which country roads can’t handle a lot of weight. Driving the “long way around” to avoid crumbling roads makes it more difficult for farm families to bring product to market. From the Delta to the Ozarks, there are 4,307 bridges maintained by counties, and 12% of them are unable to handle the weight of a fully loaded school bus. If you have a child riding a bus in a rural area you should be thinking about that number. Other numbers to think about: 362 county bridges are structurally deficient and 812 are functionally obsolete. Arkansas has the 12th largest highway system in the country but we rank 43rd nationally in what is spent to maintain roads. The lack of adequate funding affects everyone from the farmer to the bus driver to the parents hustling to pick their kids up at school and get them to baseball practice. The gap between what we spend, and what we need to spend, is getting wider each year. Some people think this only matters to industries that profit from highway construction, or the Department of Transportation that manages all this. The reality is the quality of roads should matter to anyone who drives a car, a school bus, a truck or a minivan in a car pool. At a time when only 18% of Arkansas roads are in “good” condition, more than 70% of the money we spend to improve roads comes from consumption-based fuel tax revenues. As people drive less and buy more fuel-efficient

It’s important we try to find additional funding for our crumbling infrastructure now.

vehicles, we are all using less fuel. That’s fundamentally a good thing, but it also means declining revenue for roads. Overlaying this discussion is the fact that 54% of our highway funding comes from federal money that is likely to decrease in coming years. Good roads help business, tourism and local communities. When I drive Interstate 49 on a beautiful fall afternoon, it’s easy to think how that road turned a group of communities into a cohesive and thriving region. When I drive the new Highway 70 into Hot Springs I’m amazed at how a narrow, winding, slightly dangerous road has been replaced with a beautifully designed, easy-to-drive stretch of highway. These two roads are a reminder how a high-quality, thoughtfully designed stretch of road in any region pulls together communities in a way that makes life easier for families, business and tourism. Was building those roads good for construction, asphalt and pavement companies? Sure, it was. Did building the highways create construction jobs? Absolutely. But the larger issue is these roads created a regional economic backbone. We don’t want to be ranked 43rd nationally on what we spend on roads when there are so many clear examples of why highways change quality of life. In the next few months the statewide conversation about highway funding will intensify. It will be a major topic during the legislative session in January. The more we delay finding adequate funding to maintain our rural roads and highways, the further behind we fall, and the harder it will be to address expensive problems later. It’s important we try to find additional funding for our crumbling infrastructure now. Please pay attention in the months ahead as the highway funding discussion intensifies. It’s about much more than laying concrete or asphalt, it’s about what kind of state we want to leave our grandchildren. (This article previously appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)

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By the Numbers

Interchange, Overpass, Repair Work

Department Opens Bids on Projects Across the State On Oct. 24, ARDOT opened low bids on a number of projects across the state. Here’s a look at some of them by the numbers.



By McGeorge Contracting Co. of Pine Bluff for building a new Interstate 40 interchange at Maumelle, a so-called third entrance to the city, which is footing the bill for the project along with a $4.3 million extension of Counts Massie Road to connect the interchange to the city.


Dan Flowers – North Little Rock President D.B. Hill, III – Little Rock Vice President Bob Crafton – Rogers Secretary/Treasurer Harold Beaver – Rogers JoAnn Bush – Lake Village Mark Hayes – Little Rock Mark Lamberth – Batesville Clay McGeorge – Little Rock Robert Moery – Little Rock Shannon Newton – Little Rock Dick Trammel – Rogers Michael Lincoln – Searcy Jim Wooten – Beebe Joe Quinn, Executive Director

The number of days McGeorge Contracting said it would take to build the interchange at Maumelle.

Bill Paddack, Editor Celia Blasier, Designer


The ARDOT estimate of the number of vehicles Arkansas 100 carries daily. It’s known as Maumelle Boulevard, and it crosses the length of the city between I-430 in North Little Rock and I-40.




For a railroad overpass in east Jonesboro in Northeast Arkansas that would span the BNSF Railway crossing on state Highway 18, also known as Highland Drive.


ARKANSAS GOOD ROADS FOUNDATION Mission Statement The mission of the Arkansas Good Roads foundation is to promote adequate funding and financing for the planning, development, construction and maintenance of a safe and efficient highway, road, street and bridge system, facilitating statewide economic growth, thus increasing private-sector job creation and retention.

The number of trains typically using the Arkansas 18 crossing daily.




For a project to repair selected sections covering 21 miles on Interstates 40 and 540 east from the Oklahoma border. 4   Good Roads Foundation |   Winter 2018

Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221 WWW.ARGOODROADS.COM

Guest Commentary

Governor, Legislators Show Willingness to Solve the Problem By Shannon Samples Newton, Arkansas Trucking Association President The 2019 legislative session will see highway funding at the forefront, with leaders from executive and legislative branches both promising action. To date, those promises are lacking specificity, and much work is left to be done to ensure that whatever action taken fully funds our highway maintenance program and maximizes the dollars spent on major corridors. Despite the lack of fully formed plans, the eagerness to discuss is good news for highway advocates. So what can we expect from the upcoming debate on highway funding? Gov. Asa Hutchinson has been rhetorically supportive of finding additional dollars for highways. In his recently successful bid for reelection, the closing television commercial even cited money for roads and bridges as a top priority of his second term. There are conditions, however. The governor has consistently stated his desire to put a substantial highway funding program before the people of Arkansas at the ballot box. Though he recently indicated that he would support a legislative solution if support could be garnered. The governor has not wavered on his opposition to transfer of general revenue as a means of finding new dollars, since those funds are committed to schools, Medicaid, prisons and other state services. It’s also fair to deduce that the governor would like to see any potential savings from general revenue applied to reduce the income tax. More recently, he has made known his wish for the new program to include additional capacity and new construction as part of the long-term plan. Some legislative leaders are advocating for action in the 2019 session. Rather than waiting for

Almost everyone agrees that a large portion of revenue can be derived by simply reconstituting the half-cent sales tax passed by the voters in 2012.

the ballot box as Hutchinson has alluded to, they seem ready to flex their political muscle and solve the problems of their constituents, make hard decisions and adequately fund roads. Legislators seem to have varying opinions on prioritizing maintenance over new construction, and various forms of new revenue could all be on the table for discussion. Their options include exemption removals with simple majority vote thresholds, tax increases with super majority vote thresholds or the general revenue transfer that the governor has opposed. Both approaches have merit and supporters, and there are points of consensus already emerging. Almost everyone agrees that a large portion of revenue can be derived by simply reconstituting the half-cent sales tax passed by the voters in 2012. This funded specific new projects and is set to expire in 2023. If restructured as a dedicated funding source for roads, it could substantially fill the funding gap and aid in maintenance needs moving forward. Other new revenue sources being debated include an increase in motor fuel taxes, an increase in vehicle registration and implementing higher vehicle registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. A final piece of the debate will be ways to reform the current system. Ideas being discussed by more conservative members of the Legislature include a “pay-as-you-go” model for any new dollars, avoiding the overhead of financing costs; shrinking the size of the state’s large highway network to help maximize the effectiveness of new dollars; and also new audit requirements on city and county turnback funds from multiple categories. As complex as this highway funding debate can seem, it boils down to where the money comes from and how it is spent. Gov. Hutchinson and legislative leaders have shown a willingness to engage to solve the problem. With continued hard work and a focus on good policy, 2019 will be a successful year for highway advocates.

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Annual Meeting


But Adds: ‘We Have to Develop a Consensus’ and ‘You Have Got Work to Do’ Gov. Asa Hutchinson told attendees at the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation annual meeting on Nov. 13 in Little Rock that he’s “fully committed” to seeing that the state comes up with a plan to adequately fund the maintenance of highways and bridges in Arkansas. “Good roads make a difference to our quality of life,” he said. “My purpose of being here today is to tell you that I am fully committed to a highway plan for Arkansas’ future. We understand the needs for our highways.” The governor told a crowd of 150 people that whatever funding plan is proposed “must have popular support” and a “consensus” of lawmakers and officials from the executive branch, private industry and cities and counties. Hutchinson said such a plan must include funds for maintenance, new construction and bridge rehabilitation. “We have to work diligently together over the next month in order to develop a consensus on the direction we are going to go and how we are going to present this to the Arkansas General Assembly, so you have got work to do,” the governor said. “You need to be meeting with legislators. We need to be talking. We need to develop that consensus, and your support and commitment to that is critically important.” The same week as the Good Roads membership meeting, the governor indicated he thinks between $300$400 million is needed to repair inferior roads and build new highways. Hutchinson told reporters there are

different ideas among lawmakers about financing a highway plan, “so we need to have time for all of us together to build a united approach on highways.” The governor also indicated he’s not optimistic about a federal transportation funding bill being passed by Congress anytime soon since Democrats now control the U.S. House of Representatives and Republicans continue to hold control in the Senate. “I think you’re going to see gridlock over the next two years,” Hutchinson said. “We have to forge our own future. If you want to innovate in highways, if you want to have an effective highway program, you can’t wait on the federal government.” Extending the half-cent sales tax due to expire in 2023 would be “one of the key foundational ingredients” that could be included in a highway plan presented to voters,” he said. The governor mentioned this to reporters after the AGRF luncheon at the Association of Arkansas Counties building. Voters approved the tax to fund the Connecting Arkansas Program in 2012. The Arkansas Department of Transportation says it has a more than $400 million annual revenue shortfall for maintaining the highway system and completing needed construction – a figure that does not include constructing Interstate 49 across western Arkansas or I-69 across southern Arkansas. The agency spends about $455 million annually on the

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highway system. Hutchinson said a proposal must include not only maintenance but also new construction. He mentioned specifically I-49, I-69 and a four-lane route from Jonesboro to Northwest Arkansas. “The public … they know the need for a maintenance plan, but you’ve got to have new investment and new roads,” he said. The governor told reporters that a consensus on a highway plan is possible. “It might take some time,” he said. “It might not be before the legislative session begins, but we all know what the end goal is, and there’s an incredible amount of support for it in the public and in the industry, in mayors and counties, but the Legislature has got to figure out the exact way to fund the highway program.” (This article includes reporting from Talk Business & Politics and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)

Annual Meeting

Left: Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, visits with Arkansas State Highway Commissioners (from left) Philip Taldo, Alec Farmer and Dick Trammel prior to the luncheon. Above: The Good Roads annual membership meeting was a chance to say thank you and goodbye to Dick Trammel (right). As chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, Dick has held a seat on the Good Roads Board of Directors. He is leaving our board as his 10 years on the Highway Commission comes to an end this year. Dick is a wonderful advocate for quality roads in Arkansas. As a token of our appreciation, AGRF President Dan Flowers gave Dick a check to give to one of his favorite causes, the Rogers School District Education Foundation.

Left: Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Graycen Colbert Bigger, executive director of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority. Photos by Mike Pirnique. Left: Kevin McGilton (left), VP for government affairs at Riceland Foods, with State Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Randy Zook. Right: AGRF Executive Director Joe Quinn (left) and AGRF President Dan Flowers greeted Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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Member Profile

COUNT ON THE COUNTIES’ CHRIS VILLINES AAC Exec Suggests Multi-Faceted Approach to Road Funding By Bill Paddack Sitting in the library next to his office inside the Association of Arkansas Counties building in Little Rock, Chris Villines comes across as friendly, easy-going, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his role as the key management leader of an organization that represents elected officials all across the state.

Spend some time talking with him and you quickly see why he figures his position as executive director of the AAC is pretty much a perfect fit. And one he obviously enjoys. Former Collector As his bio on the AAC website explains, the former Saline County collector is a self-proclaimed

“courthouse rat.” He grew up working for his father, who owned a title company in Benton. “I feel like I’ve been involved in county government since I was 12 years old,” he said with a smile. He came to the AAC after serving in the tough job of ensuring that individuals and businesses paid their taxes on time. A graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in finance plus a year of law school, he was just 28 years old when he was first elected to the position of collector in Saline County. Villines served as collector for 11 years until his selection by the AAC Board of Directors. He was named the association’s seventh executive director in April 2010. Along the way, he’s served as president of the Benton Rotary Club, been named one of the 10 outstanding young Arkansans by the Jaycees in 1998 and served on a number of boards. He and his family attend New Life Church - Saline County.

Association of Arkansas Counties Executive Director Chris Villines Photo by Bill Paddack

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‘Big Picture’ View “The AAC’s role is to help make each county official the best county official they can be, to give them the tools necessary to do that,” Villines said in a 2010 article in the association’s County Lines magazine. Villines says he developed a “big picture”

Member Profile “We desperately need to see Gov. Hutchinson and our legislators help convey the message that there are no red or blue potholes on roads, streets and highways.” view when he was president of the Arkansas County Collectors’ Association, which included taking an active role in dealing with the state Legislature. He and the AAC obviously deal with a range of issues vital to Arkansas and its citizens, but Villines is quick to point to the importance of good roads, highways and bridges and coming up with a way to adequately fund and maintain them. He fielded a number of questions for us regarding infrastructure in the Natural State. 50,000 Miles of Roads Good Roads: Obviously, county officials have their own local roads to maintain. Why is a good state highway system important to them and what are some ways they work with the Arkansas Department of Transportation? Chris Villines: I’m so glad you used the word “maintain.” In counties we find ourselves largely just trying to keep up with what we already have, and we don’t very often add too many new roads into our system. We estimate around 50,000 miles of county roads and bridges in this state. The vast majority of these roads feed directly onto a highway, so we work closely with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to discuss issues and solutions to travel disruption. The truth is, the average citizen of Arkansas doesn’t discern between county roads, state highways and city streets, so all three levels field concerns about roads that may or may not be theirs. Our rural infrastructure is beginning to show its age, and the cost for improvement, let alone maintenance, has been increasing

while revenues remain flat. Our county judges often lean on ARDOT for advice on engineering and latest technologies to maximize our ability to keep up with transportation needs, and through the State-Aid program we have walked hand-in-hand in making improvements when and where we can. As for the importance of our highway system, the state of Arkansas depends heavily on our farming community for economic development. In addition, our school

“Our rural infrastructure is beginning to show its age, and the cost for improvement, let alone maintenance, has been increasing while revenues remain flat.” buses traverse structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges each day. As this infrastructure continues to age, we find ourselves in a position of having to lower weight limits or even shut down bridges causing this travel to be disrupted, sometimes to the tune of many miles of detours that cost our citizens money and time with family. It is our hope that someday we can have the necessary infrastructure as it was originally intended.

infrastructure? And what are your ideas on what needs to be done and how to go about doing it and paying for it. CV: Each year it seems we add to the list of troubled bridges. The old saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” seems to apply here. We may have an acceptable highway, street or road connecting to a deficient bridge, which makes the entire system useless for some vehicles. In addition to bridges, over time we have worked hard to build roads better, with good road-beds and proper shoulders. As we’ve built better, the cost has increased, but so has safety. Each year we lose too many Arkansans to road accidents, and these statistics drive our desire to make the road system safer, but it can take many years with proper funding to bring our county road system up to the proper level. As for funding, I think all who want to see a successful highway program would agree that a multi-faceted approach would work best. Any program that we agree on, however, should strongly consider the amount of money paid by Arkansans to repair an infrastructure which ultimately benefits many from outside of our borders. If the cost for improvement is borne in part by transient traffic, the people of Arkansas will appreciate these properly shared costs. In addition, we often find ourselves in voter-led situations that require bonded indebtedness, which works well with some capital improvements, but proves unnecessarily costly for others. I hope we can find a middle ground which allows whatever revenue we receive to be used as

Revenue Sharing GR: In your position, you deal with officials all over the state. What do you see as our top needs in terms of   Winter 2018 | Good Roads Foundation


Member Profile Association Information

At a Glance

efficiently and intelligently as possible. Additionally, it is important to remember that revenue sharing in highway funding has for many years followed a 70-15-15 split, meaning 70 percent of revenues go toward the state highway system, and 15 percent each to cities and counties for their street and road programs. This funding formula has worked and is considered sacrosanct by mayors and county judges – without this split our road system would quickly deteriorate.

Rural Needs GR: Any thoughts on what the future holds for our infrastructure and transportation system and why improving our highways and bridges should be a priority? CV: I have some concern that the most recent federal infrastructure package was heavily weighted toward private investment. That can be a great model in urban settings where the return on investment is directly correlated to high traffic counts. However, our rural

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Association of Arkansas Counties Address: 1415 W. 3rd St., Little Rock, AR 72201 Phone: 501-372-7550 Website: Membership: AAC is an umbrella organization that is governed by a board of directors from nine different county and district associations. On its 18-member board are two representatives from each of the following associations: County Judges, Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, County Clerks, Circuit Clerks, Treasurers, Assessors, Collectors and Coroners. All 75 counties are members of the AAC, and it represents in total approximately 1,400 county and district elected officials as well as over 15,000 county employees across the state.

Member Profile

The Good Stuff Full Name: Christopher Garvin Villines Hometown: Benton, though I often find myself saying Saline County instead. Family: Wife, Tonya – married 26 years. Two children: Trevor – 21, Ali Grace – 16 Hobbies: Fishing, hunting, spectator sports Favorite food: (Meal) Breakfast Favorite music: Very eclectic, it depends on the day. I am currently listening to The Avett Brothers. First car: 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Favorite sports team: Razorbacks for all college sports, St. Louis Cardinals for MLB, Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL and I don’t care for the NBA. Favorite vacation spot: Has to be a tie between the Florida panhandle and the mountains of Colorado. What’s always with you when you travel: iPad and iPhone Favorite quote or slogan: We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

nature in Arkansas will see little, if any, investment out of this program. I believe all levels of government get that infrastructure investment is important, and I have hopes that the federal government will revisit infrastructure funding with an eye toward rural development, especially considering the huge agricultural impact from the Southern states. We have had communications with our congressional delegation about the importance of rural highways and county roads and I believe they will stand up for Arkansans and our needs as we move forward, with an eye toward our state and local needs. Engaged Leadership GR: And, finally, how do you and your members expect and/ or want legislators to deal with road and highway issues in the upcoming legislative session? CV: First of all, we cannot express enough appreciation for many in state leadership who have been in the trenches with us over the last few years. Leadership in our rural areas has been especially driven to this issue because, unfortunately, we seem to be falling further behind meeting needs in those areas.

It is especially hopeful to see Gov. Hutchinson announce infrastructure funding as one of his four priorities in his second term. He has listened to the people of Arkansas on the campaign trail and has heard the same concerns that we are hearing locally. County judges are incredibly accessible to their constituents, and that accountability drives an amazing level of socialconnectedness and government efficiency. We desperately need to see Gov. Hutchinson and our legislators help convey the message that there are no red or blue potholes on roads, streets and highways. We want to help leadership articulate and lead the people by educating them on the magnitude of this problem. The current political climate does not engender many issues of agreement, but everyone agrees that infrastructure improvement is needed and something we can all work together on. We believe that with engaged leadership we can pass a long-term infrastructure development plan which all Arkansans can see economic and social benefit from, and we look forward to working on the specifics of this plan in the coming weeks.

Follow us. Connect with us! Arkansas Good Roads @arkansasgoodroads

AR Good Roads @ARGoodRoads

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Rusty Hubbard’s photo of the Peel Ferry gliding through the early morning fog on Bull Shoals Lake.

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ARDOT photographer Rusty Hubbard won the People’s Choice Award in the 2018 National Faces of Transportation Photo Competition. Transportation department employees from 24 states and five private citizens submitted 88 photographs for judging in this competition. Hubbard’s winning photo of the Peel Ferry scored the majority of more than 6,000 online votes to win the People’s Choice award. In his photo, the Peel Ferry glides through the early morning fog on Bull Shoals Lake. As the last operational ferry in Arkansas, it provides a connection of State Highway 125 across Bull Shoals Lake between Arkansas and Missouri.

Side Roads ARDOT employees Rob Mersman (tug pilot) and Randall Williams (ferry boat supervisor) operate the ferry. “We’re very proud of Rusty and his talent of representing ARDOT so well,” said ARDOT Director Scott Bennett. “He does a great job telling our story through the lens. His photos give Arkansans the opportunity to see multiple aspects of ARDOT as each person in the Department plays a role in helping us fulfill our mission.” This is the second year in a row that one of Hubbard’s photos has won a category in the photo competition.

Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday (Nov. 8) as he issued a plea to raise the federal fuel tax. Writing about a legislative agenda for the new Congress, Bloomberg’s Barry Ritholtz asked, “Is anything more of a legislative no-brainer than repairing and modernizing the nation’s decrepit roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and electrical grid?”

Spending billions on infrastructure would be both popular and act as another economic stimulus, Ritholtz notes. President Trump has indicated that he is interested, although financing will no doubt remain a serious hurdle. If Democrats can’t make a deal on infrastructure, then it’s likely that little else will get done in the next two years, Ritholtz warns.

‘IS ANYTHING MORE OF A NO-BRAINER?’ Here’s a note on infrastructure from the Nov. 8 The Fiscal Times newsletter: “You know America is one big pothole,” former Transportation


pauline whitaker parkway interchange rogers, arkansas

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ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 10324 Interstate 30 | Little Rock, AR 72209 | |

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Back Talk

“Arkansans deserve a highway system that is safe, reliable and that will help our state move forward.”

– Kevin Coakley, President of the Board of Directors, Associated General Contractors of Arkansas.

“We need to find a long-term solution to shrinking the gap between what we need to spend maintaining and building roads, and what we are actually spending.”

– Arkansas Good Roads Foundation Executive Director Joe Quinn.

“Adequate transportation infrastructure is vital to Arkansas’ ability to attract and keep industry here.” – Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Randy Zook.

“We’ve just gotta spend money on this.” – President Donald Trump, in a meeting with fellow Republicans, on rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, which was a promise of his during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“If the president decides to take the driver’s seat and lead on infrastructure, it could be a game changer.”

– Sean Joyce, founder and CEO of Atlas Crossing, a governmental affairs and communications consulting firm in Washington, D.C., who is a former GOP aide for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s big for us. It’s humongous.”

– Hamburg Mayor Dane Weindorf after ARDOT awarded contracts in September totaling $71.3 million to widen a 15.3-mile section of U.S. 82/U.S. 425 in Ashley County from Hamburg to just across the Louisiana border.   Winter 2018 | Good Roads Foundation 15

Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221


Profile for Arkansas Good Roads

Arkansas Good Roads Magazine - Winter 2018  

Arkansas Good Roads Magazine - Winter 2018  


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