GOOD ROADS The Magazine of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation
The Supply Chain in the Pandemic Holding Back Chaos, One Load at a Time Foundation Good Roads. Good for All.
GOVERNOR’S LONG TERM HIGHWAY FUNDING PLAN
It’s The People’s Transportation System –
On November 3, 2020, The People Get To Decide Many things have changed in our world in the year 2020, but our need for good highways has not. Arkansas’ roadways are one of the public’s largest and most important investments. As a transportation system stakeholder, we ask that you help ArDOT educate the public about what would happen if “Issue One” passes or fails.
Please visit www.ardot.gov/renew for information and resources.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF “ISSUE ONE” PASSES OR FAILS,
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2020 EXECUTIVE BOARD Dan Flowers – North Little Rock President D.B. Hill, III – Little Rock Vice President Bob Crafton – Rogers Secretary/Treasurer Harold Beaver – Rogers JoAnne Bush – Lake Village Mark Hayes – Little Rock Mark Lamberth – Batesville Clay McGeorge – Little Rock Robert Moery – Little Rock Robert S. Moore, Jr. – Arkansas City Shannon Newton – Little Rock Chris Villines – Searcy Jim Wooten – Beebe
Dan Flowers President
D.B. Hill, III Vice President
Bob Crafton Secretary/Treasurer
Harold Beaver Rogers
JoAnne Bush Lake Village
Mark Hayes Little Rock
Mark Lamberth Batesville
Clay McGeorge Little Rock
Robert Moery Little Rock
ARKANSAS GOOD ROADS FOUNDATION Mission Statement The purpose 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, street, road and bridge system, including transportation enhancements. This work increases statewide economic growth, privatesector job creation and retention, and improves the quality of life in all Arkansas counties, municipalities, and communities.
Joe Quinn, Executive Director email@example.com Bill Paddack, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Celia Blasier, Designer email@example.com Robert S. Moore, Jr. Arkansas City
Shannon Newton Little Rock
Chris Villines Little Rock
Jim Wooten Beebe
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 3
5, 7 Leadership Changes Moore, Farmer, Holder Take on New Roles
Construction Leaders Call for Immediate Infrastructure Funding Even With Paycheck Protection Program, Cancellations, Delays Threaten Industry
The Supply Chain Holding Back Chaos, One Load at a Time
Police Distributing 19 Highway 100,000 Masks to Truck Drivers
Q&A: Kat Robinson
Herbicides & Highways
A truck stops at a rest area on Highway 71 between Mansfield and Waldron. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
Writer, Author, Blogger, TV Producer, Foodie,Road Warrior, Traveling Pie Lady, Hat Aficionado
Finding a Solution While Adhering to Federal Guidelines
REGULAR FEATURES 3 Executive Board 5 ARDOT Update 26 Side Roads
ON THE COVER
Arkansas Good Roads Foundation P.O. Box 25854 Little Rock, Arkansas 72221 WWW.ARGOODROADS.COM
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Arkansas Good Roads @arkansasgoodroads AR Good Roads @ARGoodRoads
An Arkansas Highway Police officer hands a mask to a commercial truck driver. (ARDOT Photo by Rusty Hubbard)
Moore Elected Chairman, Farmer Vice Chairman Of Highway Commission Robert S. Moore, Jr., of Arkansas City was elected chairman of the Arkansas State Highway Commission at a special meeting called on March 9, Arkansas Department of Transportation officials announced. Commissioner Dalton A. (Alec) Farmer, Jr., of Jonesboro was elected vice chairman. Moore had Robert S. Moore, Jr. previously served as vice chairman. He replaces the late Thomas B. Schueck of Little Rock, who passed away March 3. Appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe, Moore will continue to serve on the Commission until January 2023. Moore served three terms with the state House of Representatives. He was speaker of the House for the 88th General Assembly. Army Pilot, Assistant AG A graduate of McGehee High School, Ouachita Baptist University and the University of Arkansas Law School, Moore served five years active duty as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam as an Army pilot. His public service began in 1974 as an assistant attorney general for Jim Guy Tucker. Gov. David Pryor appointed Moore as chairman of the Arkansas Transportation Commission (which at that time regulated Intrastate Trucking) in 1977 where he served until 1981. In early 1986, he joined the staff of Gov. Bill Clinton and, in 1987, was appointed by Clinton as director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. He served in that capacity for two decades, being reappointed by Governors Tucker and Huckabee. Moore also serves, by appointment of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Cycling. He is an active member of a
number of civic organizations statewide. He helped secure the National Scenic Byway recognition for Arkansas Highway 4 through Arkansas City and helped the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission acquire the 10,000 acres surrounding Arkansas City that became Choctaw Island Wildlife Management Area. For those efforts and others that helped boost state tourism, he was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame in 2019. Moore and his wife Beverly live on their farm outside of Arkansas City. Distinguished Alum Farmer was appointed by Hutchinson effective January 2015 and his term expires January 2025. A native of Northeast Arkansas, he is president of Farmer Enterprises, Inc., a family-owned farm and property investment and management Dalton A. (Alec) Farmer, Jr. company. He also serves on the board of the Childress Gin and Elevator Co., and as manager for Alec Farmer Farms, LLC. He continues to serve on the board of the Craighead Conservation District. In 2019, Farmer was inducted into the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame. Farmer’s public service includes terms on the Jonesboro City Council, the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Jonesboro City Water and Light and several other civic organizations. He graduated with honors from Arkansas State University in 1986, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree. Farmer was a recipient of the ASU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019. He earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law where he served on the Editorial Board of the UALR Law Journal. Farmer and his wife Carole live in Jonesboro and together they have four daughters. Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 5
The AGC Arkansas Highway Division, along with the full support of our membership of building, utility and associate members, were instrumental in the passage of a historic highway funding package this year.
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We’re not done yet. Join us as we work alongside our Highway Coalition partners to complete this task during the 2020 election.
Hutchinson Appoints Holder To State Highway Commission At a news licensed 16-yearconference on old – I will put March 12, Gov. safety first in Asa Hutchinson every decision appointed I make. As a Marie Holder businesswoman, of Little Rock I will work to as the newest promote our commissioner transportation of the Arkansas system’s fiscal State Highway responsibility and Commission. transparency. Holder replaces “It is a great the late Tom honor to fulfill Schueck, former the term of chairman of the Tom Schueck. Commission. Chairman She will serve Schueck was an the remainder excellent advocate of Schueck’s for the people of appointment, Arkansas and the Gov. Asa Hutchinson congratulates Marie Holder. which will expire Second District. I Jan. 14, 2021. Her am thrilled to have reappointment will begin Jan. 15, 2021, and will the opportunity to work with Commissioners Farmer, expire on Jan. 14, 2031. Gibson, Moore and Taldo, the General Assembly “Throughout her career, Marie has demonstrated and the governor. Thank you for your trust and that she is a sharp businesswoman with a diversity confidence.” of skills and talents,” Hutchinson said. “She has Holder has served as a board member and a passion for her community, public service and consumer representative on the Arkansas State leadership. Medical Board and a fellow of the Federation “I have known Marie for many years, and I have of State Medical Boards since 2016. Prior to her seen firsthand how much she values the development time with Holder Consulting, she worked as the of Arkansas’ economy and the improvement of executive director and communications director of the Arkansas’ infrastructure. Each of these things has Republican Party of Arkansas and as the deputy press thoroughly equipped her to be the next state highway secretary for former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott. commissioner, and I am confident that she will be an Volunteer Work excellent fit in this critical role.” She graduated from the University of Mississippi. Former GOP Director Holder currently serves as an elder and has Holder is president of Holder Consulting, a position formerly served as a deacon at Second Presbyterian that she has held since 2015. In comments at the press Church. She is the chairwoman of the board at Second conference, she thanked the governor for his “trust and Presbyterian Preschool and a volunteer with Arkansas confidence.” Children’s Hospital Auxiliary and Girl Scouts of “I am honored to serve the people of Arkansas America. and Gov. Asa Hutchinson,” Holder said. “As the She resides in Little Rock with her husband, Ryan, mother of two children – one of whom is a newly and her children, Alexandra and Katherine. Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 7
Department Opens Bids on Road, Bridge Projects On May 13, low bids were opened by ARDOT on 80 road and bridge construction projects totaling $153.7 million. Included were 48 state projects worth $142.6 million, 17 county road projects worth nearly $6 million and 15 city street jobs worth a little more than $5 million. Among the projects is one at Fort Smith – with a $13.3 million price tag – that involves widening about 4.2 miles of Arkansas 255 between Massard Road and Frontier Roads at Chaffee Crossing near the new Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. A section of Strozier Lane, also called Arkansas 253, will be improved, as will Frontier Road from Arkansas 255 to Arkansas 22. Both sections of Arkansas 255 and Arkansas 253, once completed, will be dropped from the Arkansas highway system and their maintenance will become the responsibility of Fort Smith, according to ARDOT Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Randy Ort. The improved section of Frontier Road, which runs in front of ARDOT’s District 4 headquarters, will
Signage on Interstate 630 Honors Gold Star Families I-630 in Little Rock now has a new designation – Gold Star Families Memorial Highway. The title honors families of service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. Signage is located at both ends of the stretch of the highway that connects West Little Rock with downtown Little Rock. The eastbound sign is located near the John Barrow Road overpass. The westbound sign is near the pedestrian bridge at MacArthur Park. Another at Birdeye They were erected to coincide with the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Dedication on the grounds of the State Capitol in September 2019. State Sen. Dave Wallace, R-Leachville, and state Rep. Marcus Richmond, R-Gravelly, co-sponsored the legislation to have the signage erected. Another Gold Star Families Memorial Highway is located on a five-mile segment of Scenic Highway 163 near the State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye in Northeast Arkansas. 8 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2020
become Arkansas 255. About 10,000 vehicles daily travel on the section of Arkansas 255 that will be widened under the project, according to traffic data. Forsgren, Inc., of Fort Smith submitted the lone bid for the project. It and all other bids must pass a review before a contract can be awarded. Other significant projects on which low bids were opened, including the bid amount and the contractor: Nevada and Pike Counties A bid to replace a bridge over the Missouri River on Arkansas 19; $13.3 million; Manhattan Road & Bridge Co. of Tulsa. Faulkner and Conway Counties A bid to improve a six-mile section of Interstate 40 west from U.S. 65; $6.8 million; Rogers Group, Inc., of Nashville. Pulaski County A bid to overlay a six-mile section of Arkansas 107 between North Hills Boulevard in North Little Rock and Stonehenge Drive in Sherwood; $2.1 million; Redstone Construction Group, Inc., of Little Rock.
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM Construction Leaders Call for Immediate Infrastructure Funding Even With Paycheck Protection Program, Cancellations, Delays Threaten Industry
A large share of construction firms promptly received loan funds under the new Paycheck Protection Program, enabling many of them to hire or retain employees despite a surge in project cancellations, according to a survey released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the job-saving measure appeared to be working but cautioned that longer term recovery measures, like new infrastructure funding and establishing a recovery fund, are needed. “Most contractors report they have applied for the new federal loans, which are intended to enable small businesses to keep employees on their payrolls,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “This program has already delivered funds to nearly half of the survey respondents, and many of them have
already brought back furloughed workers or added employees, even though more clients are halting and canceling projects.” Delays, Disruptions Hurt In late April, Simonson noted that 44 percent of the 849 firms responding to the survey reported they had already received funds through the loan program, which began on April 3. Another 15 percent said their applications had been approved but they had not yet received funding, while 8 percent were awaiting a reply to their applications and 7 percent had applied but been told no more funds were available. Partly as a result of the loans, 13 percent of respondents said they had added workers. “Although the loan program has helped, it will cover only a limited part of company expenses and Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 9
Infrastructure Funding firms would benefit from larger federal investments is not enough to offset the huge drop in projects,” the economist added. He noted that half of the respondents in infrastructure, while 35 percent would benefit from a pandemic risk insurance/COVID-19 business and report that clients have ordered a halt to projects employee continuity and recovery fund. They called underway, and more than a fourth report that clients on federal officials have canceled projects that had “The president and Congress to begin work on infrastructure been expected to need to start putting in place new investments, explore begin as far out as June or later. measures to revive our economy ways to establish insurance In addition, by rebuilding our infrastructure pandemic and a recovery 67 percent of respondents in the and restoring private-sector fund to help offset expected declines in latest survey, which demand for construction.” construction demand was conducted April – Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO, Associated because of the 20-23, said they General Contractors of America. had encountered coronavirus. “The new federal project delays or loans are helping protect many construction jobs for disruptions. Moreover, 49 percent said suppliers had now, but those funds are likely to run out well before notified them or their subcontractors that deliveries demand for construction rebounds,” said Stephen E. would be late or canceled. That percentage has Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. risen each week since the association’s first survey, “The president and Congress need to start putting in conducted March 17-19, in which 22 percent of place measures to revive our economy by rebuilding respondents reported delivery woes. our infrastructure and restoring private-sector demand Declining Demand for construction.” Association officials added that 43 percent of
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Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 11
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The nation’s supply chain keeps working, thanks to thousands of trucks on the go – from wide interstates to country roads and city streets – delivering products we all usually take for granted. Good Roads Foundation
Holding Back Chaos, One Load at a Time By Joe Quinn
I’d been home alone for days watching the COVID-19 coverage when it finally became clear I had to break down and make a grocery run or not eat. I drove on empty streets past dark restaurants thinking my neighborhood looked like it was a snow day, but there was no snow or ice or happy kids. After days of not taking the car out of the garage, it was disturbing to see for myself what cable news had been incessantly telling me; local life was shutting down. It was late when I walked into “my” Walmart Neighborhood
Market. For what the week had been like the store was remarkably clean, and extra associates had been brought in to restock shelves that had been stripped during the day. I had seen all the news stories about toilet paper and bottled water being hard to find, but what I did find was basically … everything else. During the worst national health crisis in decades, the American supply chain was working. While I wandered around looking for tuna fish and bread, a young Walmart associate stocking
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soup cans smiled and said, “Sir, can I help you find anything?” Her kindness was touching as it occurred to me that this woman was the friendly final step in a sophisticated supply chain designed to bring my family food, prescription drugs and cleaning supplies. As bleak as life seemed at that moment, it was reassuring that only two miles from my home the supply chain was holding up better than Wall Street. It’s working because as you read this, thousands of trucks are on the
Supply Chain they are helping hold everyday life road. They are on wide interstates, together for us. That might sound two-lane county roads and city streets. They have just pulled out of like an exaggeration, but I don’t think it really is. When normal Des Moines, and Fort Smith, and people are fighting over toilet paper Tulsa, and they are bringing your and hoarding rice, the Arkansasfamily basic items that give you a sense of normalcy in an abnormal time. They “Right now, we worry are delivering products we all usually take for like everyone else, granted. but we are doing what These same trucks, and the men and we signed up to do, women who drive take care of people.” them, will also deliver – Gary Mars, driver for Walmart masks and gowns to hospitals, and vaccines based truck drivers who bring you to temporary health-care stations necessities should not be taken for set up in parking decks. They will granted. bring respirators to hospital ships, Quiet Heroes and food to nursing homes. The One of the veteran Walmart drivers are professionals that you drivers bringing necessities to likely don’t notice in a busy gas customers is Gary Mars. At station as you fill your coffee cup, Walmart, truck drivers are an but right now, that industry, and important piece of the company those people, are worth thinking history and have always been about. treated with respect. Over tens of Professional truck drivers on millions of miles, they have just good roads are part of a much about seen it all, but in 17 years larger supply chain, and right now
with the company Mars has never seen anything like the pandemic. “Hurricane Katrina was the only thing that was even close to this, but that was one market and this is every market,” he said. “Right now, we worry like everyone else, but we are doing what we signed up to do, take care of people.” On the night CNN started calling the crisis a pandemic, Leslie Stout, the director of safety at Little Rock-based CalArk International, was in the Atlanta airport watching coverage of the deteriorating situation and realized her truckers were about to play a key role in keeping the country afloat. A few hours later she landed in Charlotte and drove to a CalArk terminal in Raleigh. Arriving at the terminal she watched her company already fully engaged. “Standing on the loading dock in the dark it was inspiring to see sanitizer and other household items loaded on trucks,” she said. “I was proud to be there watching. We have 650 drivers and they all rallied to do what needs to be done. And while
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Supply Chain they drive, they also have personal worries about being so far away from their own families.” Gabe Stephens runs C.C. Jones Trucking in North Little Rock. His grandfather came home from World War II and started the company. On a normal week his refrigerated trucks are moving fresh and frozen chicken to California, and then coming home with produce. In the past few weeks, grocery stores sell out of chicken as soon as it’s put on shelves. “Our customers are food service companies and grocery stores,” Stephens said. “With restaurants closed, the food service business is down, but the grocery business is running full blast.” Like every other business owner in America, Stephens is working to find innovative solutions to new problems. “We wanted to get sanitizer wipes for the drivers, but you just can’t find those, so
one of our food suppliers gave us thousands of the wet wipes used in seafood restaurants,” he said. “We have restricted visitor access to our facilities and taken other safety
“Drivers can’t selfquarantine unless it’s in the small truck cabin with no bathroom. They don’t have an option to work at home.”
– Leslie Stout, CalArk International
precautions, but we hope drivers are still fairly low risk because they are naturally working alone.” Working Together As executive director of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation,
I speak to people all the time about why roads matter. I talk about job creation, safety, congestion and the need to protect local control and local funding. But on that recent late-night trip into Neighborhood Market to get routine things like dishwasher detergent and provolone cheese, I understood it’s so much more than that. It’s about truckers, and a supply chain, functioning to calm a scared nation. It’s about an industry full of people who are away from their own families, trying to bring you the basics you need to hold your family together. It’s not overstating where we are right now to say that the routine products being delivered on time may help us avoid social unrest. We have Good Roads members who design roads, build roads, manufacture food and products that are moved on roads, and members who are mayors and county judges trying to repair roads. As
928 Airport Road Hot Springs, AR 71913 Phone: 501-767-2366 Fax: 501-767-6859 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bnfeng.com AN ARKANSAS FIRM PROVIDING QUALITY CIVIL/STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING AND SURVEYING SERVICES SINCE 1972 16 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2020
Supply Chain COVID-19 forces all of us into our homes, closes our schools, threatens small business and overflows our hospitals, we really need some fundamental things to work as they were designed. Those truckers, and that supply chain, are helping us all get through this. Last fall, the Arkansas Trucking Association asked me to sit on a panel as it picked drivers to tell the trucking story in different venues. Listening to the drivers made me understand it takes time to stop a big rig in a way the average driver doesn’t think about while looking for a new radio station. I thought about that meeting as I watched neighbors rush to get groceries. I thought that we are lucky to still have people like truck drivers in this country. Men and women who just get the job done. Supply Chain Is a Lifeline I have no idea what comes next, or how bad this could all get, but I know when I walk in a store these days and see all those products, I know the supply chain is working. We all desperately need things like that to hang on to right now. And make no mistake that truck drivers are at the core of that supply chain. It’s not an easy job anytime, but it’s especially hard to be out on the road alone and sick. “Drivers can’t self-quarantine unless it’s in the small truck cabin with no bathroom,” Stout said. “They don’t have an option to work at home. If they get sick in a distant state, we have to be their lifeline. We have to work from here to get them information about where to go to get medical care and help them with the fact each state has different guidelines on what to do if you think you have the virus.”
These Arkansas-based trucking companies aren’t the only ones holding our way of life together. We live in a state with a thoughtful, smart governor who is on TV every day helping us through this. We live in a state that produces leaders like Asa Hutchinson and companies like Walmart, Tyson and J.B. Hunt. We live in a state where a brutal tornado devastates Jonesboro during a pandemic, and people just pick themselves up, start helping their neighbors, and get back to work. So, a sincere thank you to the Good Roads members and friends who make all this work and bring the things that keep my pantry full and my family safe. We are all better off because of smart people in both the public and private sector
who have spent years building this American infrastructure. What’s Important Somehow, I think that when we get through this, and I’m back to speaking to the Rotary Club in towns like Malvern, my story about why roads matter is going to begin with COVID-19 and the fact the supply chain worked on the very darkest of days. We are learning the hard way that nothing is more important than that. Gary Mars closes our conversation like a no-nonsense trucker who ignores the chaos around him and just does the job. “I have never seen people panic like this, but Walmart’s gonna be Walmart and take care of the customer,” he said. In North Little Rock Gabe
ARDOT’s Randy Ort speaks with the media about the department effort to give masks to truck drivers and other pandemic-related steps. (ARDOT Photo by Rusty Hubbard)
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Supply Chain Stephens was taking a break – from is always with the drivers, and I a hectic afternoon finding new have so much respect for them,” loads – to fix a cup of coffee as she said. “But I hope when this is we talked. As we finished, he quietly “We have restricted visitor said, “You know, access to our facilities we’ve said for years that nobody really and taken other safety appreciates truck precautions, but we hope drivers. But this may finally be the drivers are still fairly low thing that convinces risk because they are people that what we do really matters. naturally working alone.” It’s pretty dang – Gabe Stephens, scary to think about C.C. Jones Trucking what this could really be like.” An hour later, across the river over, we still look at the drivers in Little Rock, Leslie Stout uses as we do today. They are just almost the same words. “My heart essential. If the trucks ever stopped,
we would have nothing.” But because the trucks are rolling around the clock on a sophisticated infrastructure, we have a lot. I don’t think anyone shopping for groceries for their kids, or trying to get medicine for frail grandparents, is going to disagree with Gabe or Leslie as we fight our way back to normal. We are in a once-in-a-lifetime battle for survival, and I feel better having those truckers beside us. Be safe. (This article originally appeared in the Arkansas Trucking Report published by the Arkansas Trucking Association. The Arkansas Trucking Association is a longtime active member of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation.)
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Arkansas Highway Police Distribute Masks
Arkansas Highway Police Distributing Masks to Truckers Officers from the Arkansas Highway Police Division of the Arkansas Department of Transportation are distributing 100,000 masks to commercial truck drivers at weigh stations and rest areas across the state. This is part of a coordinated effort with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)to distribute one million protective masks to law enforcement agencies throughout the country for further distribution to commercial truckers. Working Together “Our officers are glad to be a part of this massive effort to distribute one million masks to
truck drivers who are traveling our nation’s highways and keeping our supply chain operational during the pandemic,” Arkansas Highway Police Chief Jay Thompson said. “We appreciate that FEMA supplied the masks, and our state partners are working together to ensure the masks reach America’s truck drivers at our rest areas and weigh stations.” State and local partners, in conjunction with FMCSA, continue to assist in the distribution of the masks to ensure that they are supplied directly to truck drivers who are maintaining the nation’s supply chain during this crisis. Supporting the Industry Arkansas was the first state in the country to receive and begin distributing the masks.
ARDOT officials, Arkansas Highway Police officers, Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton and others were in attendance at an event April 30 at the Social Hill Rest Area to help publicize the effort. “We are happy be a part of this effort to support the commercial transportation industry in Arkansas. This emergency has truly opened the eyes of many about how important the role of a truck driver is to this country,” ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor said. “In addition, at the suggestion of the Arkansas Trucking Association, we have granted permits to food truck operators to provide hot food to truck drivers in designated Arkansas rest areas. We want to do our part during this crisis.”
Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton was on hand as the Arkansas Highway Police began handing out face masks to truck drivers at the Social Hill Rest Area. (ARDOT Photo by Rusty Hubbard)
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Q&A THE GOOD ROADS INTERVIEW
Great Eating on Arkansas Roads No matter what highway, city street or country lane it’s tucked away on, if there’s great food out there, Arkansas’ ultimate foodie can tell you where to find it. By Bill Paddack Kat Robinson at Big Orange in Little Rock. When she’s researching a restaurant for the first time, she tries to be as anonymous as possible. “I want to experience exactly what someone else would on a regular visit,” she says. “It allows me to give the reader a clear, unbiased assessment.” (Photo by Grav Weldon)
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Kat Robinson is widely recognized across the state for her series of books about Arkansas food. She’s the Natural State’s foodie extraordinaire. There are books, a blog and TV shows. Everything she observes, experiences and, yes, tastes, almost always finds its way into one of her many books. It started with “Arkansas Pie,” back in 2012. Along the way there have been “101 Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die,” “102 More Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die,” “Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley” and more. And, due to the popularly of that first book, there’s the sequel, if you will, “Another Slice of Arkansas Pie.” Engage her in person or by email and enjoy her vast knowledge of Arkansas’ food scene. Just don’t try to stump her. She knows her stuff. If it’s a well-known restaurant, she’s been there, of course. If it’s a relatively small regional favorite, she can spout off any number of tasty menu items. And if it’s good pie tucked away in an unlikely place, she knows all about it. For example, Misty’s Shell Station on U.S. Highway 65 at Leslie, where you’ll find some, in her words, “marvelous fried pies,” neatly stacked in rows on shelves near a cash register at the gas station/convenience store. There’s almost always apple, chocolate, peach, raisin and pineapple along with sugar-free versions in many of those same flavors. A Title or Two If you’re planning a trip across Arkansas – or the South, for that matter – she’s your go-to person if you like to stop along the way and experience some
Q&A tasty local flavor. Before heading out, you’ll definitely want to check out her popular blog – Tie Dye Travels with Kat Robinson, www.tiedyetravels.com – and peruse her reviews, notes and suggestions. Her journeys across Arkansas have earned her titles such as “road warrior” and “traveling pie lady.” “The Girl in the Hat” (she does love wearing hats!) has been sighted in every one of Arkansas’ 75 counties, oftentimes sliding behind a menu or peeking into a kitchen. She also enjoys travel writing and is working on program development for Arkansas PBS. Robinson lives with daughter Hunter and partner Grav Weldon in Little Rock. Born in Wilmington, N.C., she’s lived in and around Arkansas since she was very young. She graduated from Parkview Arts Magnet High School in Little Rock in 1991 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Arkansas Tech. After stints at KARN Newsradio in Little Rock and KAIT in Jonesboro, she worked as a morning show producer at television station THV in Little Rock. She later spent two and a half years as the communications manager for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, which she calls “a fantastic education in many of the subjects I cover.” A Passion for Food Little Rock foodie Brigette Williams, an award-winning writer, editor and publisher, respects the way Robinson approaches her food commentary.
“During my time in magazine publishing, it was always a treat to assign Kat to explore one of Arkansas’ dining spots,” Williams said. “Even better, was to have a culinary brainstorm about an obscure restaurant interest I may have, with her suggesting the perfect dining establishments around the state. “Kat shares a similar passion to many of the chefs and restaurateurs I had the privilege to interview, of a true love of not only the food, but
The fried pies at Misty’s at Leslie. (Photo by Bill Paddack)
the history of the restaurant, and its meaning to its community,” said Williams, who enjoys sharing her own thoughts on food on her social media accounts. “She always uncovers and shares precious nuggets about the owner, or the restaurant’s origins and evolution that always makes you want to immediately hop in your car and try her dining recommendations.” While, as usual, handling a number
of projects, Robinson took time to answer our questions about pies and roads and restaurants and apps and such, as well as if there’s anything she won’t eat. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic – which has affected just about everyone’s travel – about how miles did you average traveling each year and about how many restaurants did you visit per year? I average about 30,000 miles a year – more when I’m working on a book. For instance, I spent about 18,000 miles on the road just researching and shooting photography for “101 Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die” and “102 More Things to Eat in Arkansas Before You Die.” It’s very important to me to make sure the entire state is considered in these sorts of books. As far as restaurants go, I probably visit between 300 and 400 restaurants a year. Some of those restaurants are repeat visits. I tend to seek out older restaurants as opposed to the up-andcoming eateries, because there are a lot of people out there doing “food news” and few chronicling our state’s food culture and history. With that many treks all over our state each year, you may just know our infrastructure as well as the Arkansas Department of Transportation does. What are some of the main highways you are on frequently and what are your thoughts of them? I have spent a LOT of time on U.S. Highway 65, end to end. The highway
Quick Bites Favorite celebrity chef?
Of all time, that’d have to be Justin Wilson. I could watch him for hours. He cooked like I do – measuring little but somehow coming out with the right amount. Among the living, I adore Ina Garten. She takes things at her own speed and can really relax into making the perfect dish.
Go-to adjective for describing a terrific piece of pie? I tend to use large words for describing pie. If it really comes together as a particularly delectable bite, my go-to would be extraordinary. Pies vary so much from slice to slice, pinning a particular attribute above all others is difficult.
Best song for driving? Two songs (I’m never one to narrow down to a singular example ... usually). Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and Parov Stelar’s “The Sun.” Several people have insisted I need to get Sheryl Crow’s permission to use “Everyday Is a Winding Road” for a TV theme.
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 21
Q&A “Home Cooking With Kat & Friends,” a new hour-long show from Arkansas PBS highlighting delicious recipes that can be made at home, premiered in June. In this series of shows, she talks with guests ranging from renowned chefs to home cooks from across the state. (Photo by Grav Weldon)
has progressively gotten shorter through the years, particularly in the deep Ozark hills. I’ve been thankful for the four-lane improvements between Little Rock and Lake Village, but still love the way the highway “bucks” through the Buffalo National River valley. It’s an eclectic drive that takes folks through many of the different terrains our state has to offer. My favorite highway is Scenic Highway 7, and I’d love to see more promotion of the route. While it doesn’t pass through the Delta, it does cover everything from the deeply forested timberlands of Lower Arkansas, the gorgeously eroded Ouachita Mountains and Diamond Lakes region, the large verdant swath of the River Valley and the nooks and crannies of the Ozarks. I can remember as a child the celebrated tourist stops all along the stretch between Russellville and Harrison. It’d be neat to have some sort of celebration of the route. To be honest, I’m on a LOT of highways, quite often. In both 2018 and 2019, I visited every single one of our 75 counties. I think we have a lot of underrated drives – like Highway
9 between Horseshoe Bend and Mountain View – probably one of our more challenging curvy, mountainous spans. There are also the stretches of Highway 8 in South Central Arkansas, with its miles and miles of scenery uninterrupted by towns. We’re lucky to have so many varieties of terrain here in Arkansas. Any other specific roads you love or ones that you feel need a lot of work? There’s the Great River Road in Arkansas. Many people know about the route in other states along the Mississippi River. On our side, from Blytheville to Eudora, it’s marked but it’s a very eclectic mix of roadways. I’d love to see better interpretation of the entire route – particularly the side routes into Elaine and out to Rohwer. There’s also a great deal of the route that’s underpaved or not paved at all, particularly the stretch from Mississippi River State Park at Marianna down to the north side of Helena-West Helena. I realize this isn’t a particular single route or highway, but it could be incorporated into the current system. It’d certainly boost the economy for our Delta region.
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Similarly, the Crowley’s Ridge Scenic Parkway is a magnificent trip to take along one of the most unique land formations in this part of the world. I’d love to see updated signage through the entire length. I’ve driven it many times and have noticed the signs that are there are well-faded, and several areas where it’s hard to follow because signs aren’t around. As far as good drives that really need to be considered, the stretch of U.S. Highway 70 between DeValls Bluff and Brinkley really needs to be reset and paved. The location of the area does restrict what can be done, but it would be wonderful to have a long stretch of that road built up, re-concreted and a roadside pull-off or two constructed. Right now the roadbed is uneven, and driving the stretch in a hard rain is a frightening journey. On a historic front, I would love to see ARDOT and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism get together and do something to commemorate the Dollarway (the historic road at Redfield that was built in 1913), which at one point in time was the longest span of paved road in the United States.
Q&A What safety concerns do you have on Arkansas roads? For the most part, Arkansas roads are being tended well. I do find some rather strong frustration with the Pig Trail, partly because of inevitable washouts but more so from the lack of places to pull over. Traffic often crawls to a halt because of a single driver or truck that is having a hard time negotiating curves. I’ve also been wondering what could be done for our roads in parts of the state that have been prone to flooding these past couple of years. Several times in the past decade, I’ve had to detour from a Highway 7 route north of Camden because of high water, and last year’s epic flooding on the Arkansas made clear that even its crossing at Dardanelle had issues. Flooding is indeed more of an issue for the Army Corps of Engineers when it comes to the Arkansas River – but perhaps something could be done in our smaller communities. I’d love to see video integration into the IDriveArkansas app. We were really lucky to be the first state to really GET what an app could do for us, and I love that I can just pull up my phone and get the information I need on construction and road closings. I’d love to see what could be done to have tiny, inexpensive cameras tied to the system with wireless links so drivers could see what’s going on at different locations, whether it’s for traffic in construction areas or weather at distant spots. I know our roads get a rough rap sometimes with our residents, but for the most part we’re doing quite well. Few people know we have one of the largest highway systems in the United States, with more than 16,000 miles of state-maintained roadbed – we’re 12th in the nation. Part of that comes from the creation of our state-level highway system of designations in 1926, which continues to have repercussions today. When we started naming our stretches of existing road as highways, everyone and their dogs wanted in,
and everyone wanted a highway near their home or district. So we’re a highway-dense state as well as a terrain-varied state. Our road needs are quite different in Washington County and Desha County. ARDOT does a pretty good job of maintaining it all and improving it all. What are your favorite travel apps? As I mentioned, the IDriveArkansas app is a favorite of mine. I also spend a LOT of time talking to Google, especially when I am traveling for a quick-turn piece. I use the “hey Google” function to ask questions such as distance, whether a restaurant has an online menu or how much sunlight I have in the day. It allows me to be hands-free while I am driving. How did you get into the foodie world? Accidentally, to be honest. I have long had an interest in food and food culture, but it wasn’t until I left THV in 2007 that I considered writing on food. I was planning to write about travel and culture on my own while pursuing a career in public relations – but about the time I left the station, I had editors and friends ask if I’d share my writing skills. In December 2007
I drew the interest of Max Brantley with the Arkansas Times, who would link to pieces I had written on my Tie Dye Travels website to the Eat Arkansas blog on the Times’ website. In November 2008, I was asked to take on Eat Arkansas as its primary writer. My longstanding interest in food comes from many places. I have been a cook in the Society for Creative Anachronism for decades, and I love historical food research. Focusing in Arkansas with this background has given me insights quite different from many food writers in this state. While I still research restaurants today, I feel more a part of the food community as a member of its number than as an observer. So many of these cooks, chefs, front and back of the table staff, have become my friends and family. We check on each other. Some food writers, particularly food critics, become adversarial with the culinary world. I firmly believe that all boats rise with the tide, and as our restaurant community fares, so do I. We’re all in this together – and that’s a gift, one that you don’t see in large cities or competitive states. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had at an Arkansas restaurant? Photo by Bill Paddack
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 23
Q&A Now that’ll get me cornered, right there. I’ve had a great number of remarkable restaurant meals over time – it’s part of the job. But every one of them has to do with something more than the food. Like Rob Nelson bringing me a platter of fried chicken and waffles during a pork-heavy plated dinner at Tusk and Trotter. Or a plate of crabmeat cannelloni and a
There’s the Banoffee pie at Whispering Woods Cabins and Grill by Lake Norfork, the caramel apple fried pie at Shake Shack in Marion, the Better Than Sex pie at Patty’s Down the Road on the far side of Hot Springs, and the peach cream cheese pie at the Skylark Cafe in Leslie, but only when peaches are in season. Thing is, there’s always another pie, so choosing just a handful is so very, very hard.
“Fort Smith alone with its extraordinarily affordable array of local and world cuisines is worthy of destination dining.” Mista salad with a chunk of sesameencrusted bread at Lazzari Italian Oven after showing my daughter around Jonesboro and pointing out the places I would frequent a decade before she was born. There are meals I return to again and again at our restaurants – the brisket-stuffed baked potato at Hoot’s in McGehee, the French onion soup at Colonial Steakhouse in Pine Bluff, the country fried steak with mashed potatoes and black-eyed pea salad at Williams Tavern at Historic Washington State Park, the Pad Se-iew at Fried Rice in Fort Smith. But to name a singular meal at one restaurant over them all? Impossible. What are your very favorite pies in Arkansas and the best places to find them? That’s a rather hard question to answer – because there are so many different types of pies. I am a big fan of the strawberry pie at Gavin’s on the Square in Harrisburg – it is the pie equivalent to the Bulldog Restaurant’s (Bald Knob) strawberry shortcake, yet available year-round. I dig the caramel pie at Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets in Keo, and will make a detour for a half-and-half of sweet potato and pecan at Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales and Pies in Lake Village.
Do you consider Arkansas to be a great destination for foodies? Absolutely. It’s a great unexplored region for those who haven’t crossed our borders before. Our cuisine isn’t singular – we don’t offer the exact same dishes corner to corner, and we have different food traditions in different regions of the state. We’re not Southern cooking. We have aspects of Southern culture in our meals and how we consume them, but other points could go towards an Appalachian or Midwestern aesthetic. Some tables in Lower Arkansas bear identical loads to those in most of Louisiana. Arkansas Delta food shares similarities with Mississippi Delta food. We have a lot to offer food lovers who travel here. There are trails to be defined (outside of pie, for which
“We’re going to lose a lot of our classic restaurants. It breaks my heart.”
I believe I’ve done a rather thorough job). One could make a whole trip based on catfish and its variations in fixins, or our different scale of barbecue, or simply on cheese dip alone. There are celebrity trails – one could make an argument that an Elvis-based tour would draw thousands – and there are highway trails. Fort Smith alone with its 24 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2020
extraordinarily affordable array of local and world cuisines is worthy of destination dining. The explosion in Bentonville and Rogers of new cuisine concepts and the sheer number of new restaurants could fuel the bellies of food lovers for weeks. And there just aren’t that many places left to visit on the globe with unique experiences like the single owner-operator backwoods high-end dining at Catalpa Cafe east of Oark or the every item made-to-order one-on-one creations at the Mona Lisa Cafe in Shirley. The only way to really experience any of these experiences is on your tires, and the journey becomes part of the experience. COVID-19 has made this year a tough one for restaurants. What changes do you see coming in the restaurant industry? We’re going to lose a lot of our classic restaurants. It breaks my heart. Brown’s Country Store and Restaurant at Benton, which opened the year I was born, announced it’s done. I’ve heard other rattlings out there. Restaurants operate on a much thinner profit margin than other businesses. The buffet as we know it today may become a thing of the past, or at least dry up for several years. I suspect in their place, we will see some form of a la carte, cafeteria dining style similar to Franke’s in Little Rock in place of these eateries. I would not be surprised if we come back to the idea of the automat, where dishes are prepared and slotted in key boxes or cabinets for diners to choose what they want and procure it without direct human contact. As impersonal as the idea is, if done right it could bring back a retro concept that once was popular in larger cities. Takeout and delivery for non-pizza restaurants is certainly here to stay. I do wish to encourage diners to order direct from restaurants rather than using those convenient order groups such as GrubHub. I don’t believe folks realize the extreme discount some of our eateries have to take when they use these
Q&A What is your favorite family recipe? My mom’s cornbread dressing, but only in the fall. I have watched her make it, written down the instructions, reconstructed it myself, but I only feel right making it when she’s in the house, and usually she just makes it herself. She has figured out how to make it in the crockpot, too. I crave it all through September and October, but I don’t eat it until Thanksgiving What are some interesting or unique Day, and maybe Christmas, and that’s things restaurants have been doing to it. survive and keep customers? I think our era of convenience, I’ve seen some great gap-filling with foods available year-round and happening with our homegrown freezers and the like, has impacted restaurants. Terri-Lynn’s BBQ is not the way we eat more than anything only offering its regular menu; it’s else. selling bacon, eggs, bread and other So many of us, particularly our staples for pick-up. Art Is In Cakes, young folks, have grown up with the known best for its hands-on classes, idea they can get what they want to eat Is there any food you won’t eat? has become the go-to place for yeast when they want it, with no great wait. As much as I miss it, I am severely and baking supplies. Our restaurant Over the past decade, I’ve grown allergic to pork. There are quite a few folks are making sure customers have everything they need, even for cooking people who are surprised at that, since into the idea of eating seasonally – eating things when they’re ripe rather I cover food in a very pork-heavy at home. than when I can get a can out of the state. But I have companions who I I have rejoiced in the return of cabinet. It makes things more special invite along for their own expertise the family meal, too. I noticed it first – strawberry shortcakes in April, fresh when I am writing about peach cobbler in July, watermelon these restaurants. Other than pork, I am game for in the hottest days of August, and of just about anything, even course that dressing at the holidays. beets (though I don’t care We tend to take convenience for for them) and wild game. granted. If the crisis response to COVID-19 Now, there are a lot has shown us anything, it’s that it of foods I prefer, and doesn’t take much for the convenience when casually dining I to be curtailed. will choose them over Most folks noticed toilet paper things I don’t prefer. became all but impossible to find after But for research? Sure. stay-at-home suggestions began, but I have eaten my share I noticed the lack of availability of of crickets, squirrel, ground beef and fresh chicken. Canned raccoon, nutria, pigeon, goods were swept up and taken home nettles, sashimi, eggs, – sometimes by folks who had no idea reptiles, fermented how to cook with them. Bisquick flew goods and even lutefisk. off shelves. At the same time, a new I consider the tasting of generation returned to home gardening it to be part of the job. – and it’ll be interesting to see who Would I load my larder Kat Robinson outside sticks with it. with nutria? Well, no. the Mammoth Orange We’re in for a zucchini summer, But if we’re in a situation at Redfield. She prides I believe, and squash and peas and where food is limited, or herself in checking out folks who have never shelled peas in someone is really dang restaurants and diners in their lives learning why the thumbs of proud of their nutria all 75 Arkansas counties. their rural friends were purple for two chili, I’ll put it in my (Photo by Grav Weldon) months each year. bowl. Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 25 services – or how they’re run. Once a vaccine is created and distributed, I predict that the restaurants that do survive, particularly those founded in the 20th century, will see a round of nostalgic dine-around consumers who ache for service of times past. Comfort food dishes are already coming back strong.
with Star of India, offering these $50 family meal packs that could serve an army, or at least a dozen people. As many folks have realized these past few months, cooking at home is time-consuming. Being able to pick up a complete veggie burger pack for six at Big Orange, or a full steak dinner for two at Taylor’s Steakhouse in Dumas, or take-and-bake casseroles at Marlar’s Cafeteria in Magnolia – these are great ways to ease the crunch of cooking at home. I believe as we see the easing of restrictions on the food service industry, these ideas are going to stay a part of restaurant life. It will probably impact wait staff the most, since the ratio of pick-up to dine-in is going to change drastically.
Missouri OKs Bid to Complete Its Portion Of Bypass Project Talk Business and Politics reports that on April 1 the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved a $58.7 million project to complete Missouri’s portion of the Bella Vista Bypass or Missouri/Arkansas Connector. Meanwhile, Missouri highway projects remain on schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a district engineer said. Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc., of Columbia, Mo., will complete the nearly five-mile bypass project between Pineville, Mo., and the Missouri/Arkansas state line in McDonald County, Mo. Construction was expected to start by late April and be completed by Sept. 30, 2021. Steve Campbell, southwest district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said bids for the project were higher than hoped. The total cost for all aspects of the project, including right-of-way acquisition, design and construction, is $70.3 million.
BUILD Grant The project will relocate a four-lane divided highway to the west of existing U.S. Highway 71. The new road will meet interstate standards and can be accessed via interchanges, including a new interchange at Missouri Highway 90, west of Jane, Mo. The project will be partially paid for with a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) federal grant that the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission received in December 2018. 26 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2020
Emery Sapp & Sons also is completing 2.6 miles of the bypass in Arkansas, from Benton County Road 34 to the state line, and the new interchange at U.S. Highway 71B in northern Bentonville. The $102.11 million in projects started in fall 2019 and should be completed by late 2020 and late 2021, respectively. Part of Interstate 49 In January, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission Policy Committee approved a plan from the Missouri Department of Transportation to update the construction costs for Missouri’s portion of the bypass. Completion of all phases of the project rose by $7 million, from $63 million. When the bypass projects are completed, they will become part of I-49, which will run 290 miles between Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Smith.
Springdale Receives $1.5M Grant From Agency to Enhance Roads The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $1.5 million grant to Springdale to support business growth by improving roadway infrastructure. The EDA grant, announced March 5, will be matched with $1 million in local funds and will support business growth by improving roadway infrastructure needed to ease the movement of commercial traffic. The funds are expected to create or retain 125 jobs and generate $14.6 million in private investment. “EDA is pleased to support Springdale’s strategy to enhance the roads and create access to a major state thoroughfare,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fleming said. “In addition, this project will make it possible for a food processing equipment manufacturer to construct a plant on a nearby site and bring much-needed jobs to the region.” Essential for Development The project will connect Kendrick Avenue and Highway 265 to create a streamlined transportation corridor that will attract new businesses and jobs to the area. “Investment in infrastructure is vital to allow for continued John Boozman
Side Roads growth and development in Northwest Arkansas, which is why I’m pleased the Trump administration awarded this grant,” Sen. John Boozman said. “Improving the function and accessibility of this roadway will help increase economic opportunities that will further support jobs and better meet commercial needs in the region.” The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Northwest Arkansas Planning and Development District. “It is critical that our infrastructure keep up with our booming economy,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Springdale’s thriving industry and growing population make it the perfect fit for this project.” “Springdale is ripe with growth opportunity – and this strategic investment will make our community even more competitive,” Congressman Steve Womack said. “It’s a great example of leveraging existing assets to support long-term economic development, improve traffic flow Steve Womack and modernize infrastructure.”
FRA Seeking Input on Blocked Highway-Rail Grade Crossings The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has established a new, dedicated webpage allowing the public and law enforcement agencies to report blocked highway-rail grade crossings, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation officials. Blocked crossings occur when stopped trains impede the flow of motor vehicle or pedestrian traffic at railroad tracks for extended periods of time. Communities have long dealt with the issue of blocked crossings, and the FRA is now seeking broad public input to understand the scope of the problem and engage with affected parties to identify potential solutions. Information From Users The new FRA Blocked Crossing website requests specific information from users that includes the date, time, location and duration of the incident. Information collected on the website is only being used to track the location and impacts of blocked crossings.
The FRA’s purpose of collecting this information is to learn where, when, for how long, and what impacts result from blocked highway-rail grade crossings. The FRA will share this information with stakeholders including railroads, state and local governments, and other federal authorities, using it to help facilitate local solutions to blocked crossing issues. Visit the FRA website at www.fra.dot.gov/ blockedcrossings to report a blocked crossing in your area.
Pleasant Valley Farm Road Closed Due to Cantrell Work Widening Cantrell Road (Highway 10) between Pleasant Ridge Road and Pleasant Valley Drive in Little Rock required the permanent closure of Pleasant Valley Farm Road, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials. Crews permanently closed Pleasant Valley Farm Road as of June 1 to allow for utility and construction work to continue in preparation for larger highway construction activities in the area. Pleasant Valley Farm Road is located between Rodney Parham Road and I-430 on the south side of Cantrell Road. Anderson Road will continue to service the businesses in that area. The widening of Cantrell from Pleasant Ridge Road to Pleasant Valley Drive is the first project delivered by ARDOT using the construction manager general contractor project delivery method, authorized as part of a pilot program under Act 809 of 2017. Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. was selected in February 2018 and worked with ARDOT during the design phase by providing constructability reviews, risk identification and mitigation, and design innovation and optimization. Kiewit’s bid price was accepted by ARDOT and a construction contract was executed in March 2020. Work is estimated to be complete in mid-2023. Traffic will be controlled by traffic barrels, signage and concrete barricades. Drivers should always exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones. Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov. Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 27
Arkansas Participates in National Work Zone Awareness Week On April 20-24, ARDOT participated in National Work Zone Awareness Week, a national safety campaign observed each spring – traditionally the start of construction season – to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. This year’s national theme was: “Safe work zones for all. Protect workers. Protect road users. We can do it!” In Little Rock, the Main Street Bridge, Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, Big Dam Bridge, Two Rivers Pedestrian Bridge, the Junction Bridge Pedestrian Walk Way, the Union Plaza Building and the Simmons Building were lit with orange lights in observance of the campaign. Arkansas’ 2020 Work Zone Awareness Week
partners included the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association, the Arkansas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association and the Federal Highway Administration. “It’s always important to be extra careful and alert when going through work zones. Most people would be surprised at the number of ARDOT workers who have been hit and killed over the years,” AGRF Executive Director Joe Quinn said, “Good Roads is pleased to work with ARDOT on this campaign. It’s especially important right now as more and more and more people pay way too much attention to their phones while driving.”
Patrick Sullenger, Sales Manager 501-490-1535 / email@example.com
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ARDOT: Mississippi County Bridge On Highway 77 At Lepanto Closed
Springdale City Council Votes To Support Sales Tax Extension
A bridge on Highway 77 over an unnamed creek near the intersection of County Road 1052 has been closed, according to ARDOT officials. A routine bridge inspection revealed structural deficiencies, resulting in the bridge closure. The bridge is approximately five miles south of Highway 14 near the town of Lepanto. Motorists should use Interstate 55 or Highway 14 as alternate routes. Federal Grant This bridge is scheduled to be replaced in late 2020 as part of a project funded in part by a federal grant. Traffic will be controlled by traffic barrels, signage and barricades. Drivers should exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones. Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov.
Add Springdale’s City Council to the list of entities supporting Issue 1. In a 6-1 vote on March 24, the City Council showed its support for the measure that would extend a 0.5 percent state sales tax to pay for Arkansas highways. Philip Taldo of Springdale, who represents Northwest Arkansas on the State Highway Commission, said the continued statewide tax would bring roughly $1.6 million annually to Springdale. The current tax has helped build the Interstate 612 bypass of Springdale, the expansion of Arkansas 265 to Rogers and the Bella Vista bypass, among other projects, Taldo said. He added that the tax would make the state’s roads safer, would support jobs and activate the economy without raising taxes.
TRUCK SAFETY PROGRAM FUNDING
AP P JU DEA LICA LY DL TIO 1, INE N 2 :
The Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program is beginning its next application cycle. APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED
MARCH 2 – JULY 1, 2020 AND WILL BE AVAILABLE AT:
www.ardot.gov/ACTSEP.aspx — or — Arkansas Commercial Truck Safety and Education Program c/o Arkansas Department of Transportation Program Management Division P. O. Box 2261 Little Rock, AR 72203-2261 — or — Arkansas Department of Transportation 10324 Interstate 30, Room 503 Little Rock, AR 72209
For More Information, Call: (501) 569-2481 Fax: (501) 569-2623 | Email: LFPA@ardot.gov
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 29
Herbicides & Highways
Herbicides & Highways
Finding a Solution While Adhering To Federal Guidelines By Britni Padilla-Dumas, ARDOT
species. Many land conservationists use them to return a habitat to its natural shape.” It isn’t every day that environmentalists get the Non-native, invasive species are responsible for opportunity to collaborate with several state and multiple plant species being listed on the endangered federal agencies during the National Environmental species list. Policy Act’s (NEPA) 50th Anniversary, but such is the “They’re wiping out our native habitats,” Staffeld case with ARDOT’s Environmental Division. said. Maintenance staff across the state began noticing But First, Safety that grass was growing through the cracks in the Maintenance personnel are allowed to spray highways, causing damage to the structural integrity of herbicides only after completing specific training the pavement. through the Arkansas Plant Board and receiving The challenge? certification and licensure to do so. The highways were located within the boundaries of the U.S. Forestry Service. Challenge Accepted The importance of safety and land conservation is not lost on Advanced Environmental Impact Analyst Susan Staffeld. She and Natural Resources Section Head Kayti Ewing accepted the task of finding a solution to extend the life of the pavement while adhering to federal guidelines. “The Environmental Division acts as a liaison between the Maintenance Division and the U.S. Forestry Service, bridging the gap between the two entities that must work together to complete the job safely and properly,” Ewing said. “An environmental assessment, complete with NEPA processes, had to be completed prior to any spraying of herbicides,” Staffeld explained. “NEPA provides a process for federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of their projects.” Ewing and Staffeld conducted field work, including extensive botanical surveys of plant life in the affected areas. “Surprisingly, it was non-native, invasive species that were causing problems with the pavement,” Ewing said. “Herbicides, when used correctly, are an effective tool for combating non-native, invasive
Proudly Supports Arkansas Goods Roads Foundation 3592 Hwy 367 South Searcy, AR 72143 (501) 268-2359 www.cpcmidsouth.com
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Herbicides & Highways “There will not be any kind of broadcast spraying herbicides chosen for use within its boundaries. within the U.S. Forests. A lot of collaboration occurred “They have an independent third-party researcher so that the herbicide use will be very minimal; in study the toxic limits for humans and wildlife to many cases, since the biggest cause for concern were determine if it can be used around water, and if the the cracks in the pavement, we’re mostly spraying the use of the herbicide needs to be more stringent than pavement,” Staffeld said. the instructions on the label. It’s all Restrictions about safety.” “The NEPA process “We use equipment Target Acquired provided a feedback herbicide’s manufacturer’s that is specific labelEach mechanism for the public. indicates the effective rate, Part of the original proposal and targeted to established by the Environmental was actually modified based Agency (EPA), and minimize any Protection on the comments from the instructions on how and when to public. There are also a adverse effects.” apply it to a targeted species. One lot of restrictions in place of Ewing’s responsibilities was to – Kayti Ewing, Natural to make sure that certain ensure that ARDOT was not spraying Resources Section Head resources are not impacted, any rare populations. like human public water “We use equipment that is specific supplies, endangered species – both plant and animal – and targeted to minimize any adverse effects,” Ewing protected bodies of water, and wilderness areas. NEPA said. “Both the process and the herbicides used are has improved the project by requiring that all of these tightly monitored and held accountable. aspects are considered and the entire picture is seen,” The environmental assessment is a living Staffeld emphasized. agreement – annual reporting, annual monitoring; She also explained that the U.S. Forestry Service there will always be constant contact between our also requires a risk assessment on the specific Maintenance Division and the Forestry Service.”
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 31
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 Prefessional Engineers Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Arkansas Trucking Assocation Ash Grove Cement Company Association of Arkansas Counties/County Judges Atlas Asphalt, Inc. (Jamestown Investments) B & F Engineering, Inc. Bank of Delight Bob Crafton Bobby Glover Burns & McDonnell Cashion Company Clark Machinery Company Commercial Bank - Monticello Contractor’s Specialty Service Company Cowling Title CPC Midsouth Crafton-Tull & Associates Crisp Contractors Curt Green & Company, LLC D.B. Hill Contracting Dan Flowers Delta Asphalt Dermott Industrial Developement Dumas Chamber of Commerce Eagle Bank and Trust Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce First Community Bank of Batesville FM Structural Plastic Technology Forsgren, Inc. Garver LLC Golden Triangle Economic Development Harold Beaver Hines Trucking Inc. Horatio State Bank
32 Good Roads Foundation | Summer 2020
Hudson, Cisne & Company Hutchens Construction Company I 49 International Coalition Jack Buffington Jeffrey Sand Company Jensen Construction Company Jim Wooten JoAnne Bush Johnnie Bolin Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce Kiewit Company Koss Construction Company LaCroix Optical Company Larco, Inc. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Lion Oil Company M & T Paving and Construction Company, Inc. Maxwell Hardwood Flooring McGeorge Contracting Company, Inc. Michael Baker Int’l Midwest Lime Company Millar, Inc. Mobley General Contractors Monticello Economic Developement 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
By the Numbers
ROAD SAFETY 90.7 45 3
One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is to buckle up. Many Americans understand this as the national use rate was at 90.7 percent in 2019
If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger vehicle, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45 percent.
A three-second following distance – or more! – will help you spot possible driving hazards and give you time to react.
Older drivers are more likely to be involved in intersection crashes than younger drivers – a third of all fatal crashes of older drivers occur at intersections.
The number of potential vehicle conflict points at every four-way, two-lane intersection.
Drivers 85 and over have the highest fatality rates per mile driven. The fatal crash rate begins to increase noticeably at age 70.
A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle. Always yield the right-of-way to the train – the train cannot yield to you.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website – www.nhtsa.gov – as well as facts compiled for the AARP Smart Driver Course. Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 33
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“Arkansas’ economy depends on safe, reliable infrastructure to move products to market. Updating the roadway infrastructure in Springdale will help sustain long-term economic growth in the region.” – Sen. Tom Cotton, on the announcement in March that Springdale will receive a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for roadway infrastructure.
“It’s half of a percent, which is half a penny.”
– Robert Moery, campaign manager for Vote for Roads Vote for Issue 1, explaining at a regional meeting at Fort Smith about the sales tax extension proposal that will be on the ballot in November.
“Most systems that make up our network of interstate highways are at least 50 years old, so there has to be substantial reinvestment to make sure those assets can keep up with daily wear and tear. States and localities are doing their part, and this is a great opportunity for the federal government to do its part.”
– Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a New York Times article titled “As States Add Money to Fix Roads, U.S. Is Urged to Ante Up.”
“Trucking is highly motivated to support the best infrastructure our nation can afford for the safety of our workforce, the success of our economy and the well-being of all the communities who depend on our trucks to travel the highways, but funding that infrastructure should be smart, efficient and transparent. The research shows that tolling does not achieve those ends.”
– Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton, on a recent American Transportation Research Institute report about how much money toll facilities generate, how much is reinvested into the facilities and how much trucks pay in tolls compared to their usage of toll roads.
“There’s this grand opportunity to talk about infrastructure and make it the serious issue that the country needs and demands.” – U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., in discussions about a federal infrastructure package.
Summer 2020 | Good Roads Foundation 35
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The latest addition of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation Magazine, just in time for Summer.