Highway Department Determining Long-Term Focus

July 2, 2003 - Posted at: 10:20 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The state Highway Commission is trying to decide what its long-term focus should be.

Commission Chairman ``Buddy'' Benafield acknowledges it could be some time before a clear 10-year plan is in place. Commissioners are expressing different ideas on where priorities should lie.

One priority could be addressing growing traffic levels in urban areas. Another involves improving roadway infrastructure in economically depressed areas.

What is clear at this early stage is that Arkansas faces more than $15 billion in highway needs over the next decade, but is in line to receive only $4.3 billion in federal funding for congressionally designated projects.

Congressionally designated projects include the expansion of US 412 across northern Arkansas, the conversion of US 71 into Interstate 49 along the western border, an Interstate 555 connector to Jonesboro and the future Interstate 69 in the southeastern part of the state.

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