Millions in federal funds to be invested in Missouri, Arkansas Roads

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced Tuesday that $771.3 million had been released to Arkansas for critical infrastructure in the fiscal year 2023. Additionally, Missouri is set to receive $1.4 billion.

Those figures reflect the statistics gathered by the highway administration on road conditions from state to state.

Arkansas has 663 bridges and over 6,711 miles of highway in poor condition. The administration reports that since 2011 commute times have increased by 3% in Arkansas, and each driver pays an average of $671 per year in costs due to driving on roads that need repair.

Compared to Missouri, where 2,190 bridges and over 7,576 miles of highway are in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 5.9% in Missouri, and on average, each driver pays $743 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.

Dave Parker with the Arkansas Department of Transpiration (ARDOT) says federal funding must be allocated to projects that meet the federal requirements for the category or program of funding as established by Congress.

So the funds could potentially be used for projects like the Lake Harrison Bridge along Main Street/Highway 65B. A bridge, initially built in 1930, is now scheduled to be replaced next year.

“It will be a five-lane bridge, will have sidewalks on both sides is what we’re looking at,” said Steve Lawrence, ARDOT District 9 engineer. “So it’ll be an improvement over what we have right now.”

Lawrence says District 9 comprises many bridges, all of which see heavy traffic and take level maintenance to keep up. Business owners near the Lake Harrison Bridge understand that firsthand.

“More than 70-80% of our customers come across that bridge. It’s a busy bridge,” said Tony Valentine, owner of T’s BBQ. “It usually stays backed up with the traffic light most of the day.”

Valentine has driven the bridge daily over the last eight years he’s been in business and says he’s seen how much it has declined.

“It is definitely needed. The bridge has deteriorated in many ways: its rough, the patchwork that they do on it only lasts for a few weeks, maybe a month,” he said.

In federal funding, one program allows $60.1 million for bridges. Arkansas was forced to spend approximately $10 million in emergency repairs for the Interstate 40 Herman DeSoto bridge connecting West Memphis and Memphis in 2021 after a crack was discovered.

Even if construction means a temporary slowdown in business, improvements are welcomed.

“I feel like they can detour traffic around. Most of it then will come right in front of our restaurant,” said Valentine. “I don’t think it will be that big of an issue being closed down. I’m always one anytime something is going on in our area. I’m all for it.”

Construction on the Lake Harrison Bridge is expected to begin early next year. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

CLICK HERE to find out more on the bipartisan infrastructure program.

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