The state of Arkansas has begun the biggest highway construction program that has ever taken place in the state as announced by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. With a population of three million, the small state has a goal of improving transportation connections between cities, improving safety, increasing capacity by widening highways to four or more lanes, and easing congestion. The Connecting Arkansas Program will support more than 40,000 jobs and stimulate economic growth in the state by making Arkansas locations more desirable to companies to locate and conduct business in. This will provide a revenue source for new highway projects.
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The Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance, a committee created when the state general assembly passed Act 374, was charged with discovering means to finance transportation improvements and to propose highway finance legislation and they came up with was a constitutional amendment to levy a temporary sales-and-use tax. The proposal was received with bipartisan approval and was added to the 2012 statewide general election ballot, which Arkansas voters approved. The states’ sales tax will contribute US$1.8 billion toward the highway and interstate construction projects. Approximately US$700 million of the money raised will be shared by every city, town, and county to repair county roads and city streets.
The design-bid-build projects come in a “large range of sizes,” said Keli Wylie, administrator of the CAP Program and alternative project delivery administrator; from US$10 million to US$187 million. “Our role is to work with designers and consultants on construction plans, to monitor financials and manage projects,” said Earl Mott, program manager and director of construction services. To help keep track of so many projects, ARDOT contracted with Garver, an Arkansas-based consulting engineering firm specializing in transportation, aviation, water, and heavy civil infrastructure. Garver keeps a master program schedule and works with all the designers to estimate the amount of time needed to get plans ready to bid.