Battle Begins for Arkansas' Share of Federal Highway Funds

February 17, 2004 - Posted at 8:32 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON, DC - Arkansas officials say the state is competing for its share of a $318 billion federal highway bill.

And it should be a tough battle.

Congressman John Boozman says some of his colleagues would rather delay the bill a year than try to meet so many needs with the reduced bill.

The bill was cut down from $375 billion when it passed the Senate last week.  Boozman expects a similar cut to be approved by the House as well.

Arkansas needs funding to start construction on new interstates 49 and 69.  Local leaders are, in turn, lobbying their Congressmen and state highway commissioners for a chunk of the money for smaller projects.

The smaller federal spending package could delay several Arkansas projects, like a $200 million freeway bypass north of Little Rock; $2 billion to turn Highway 71 into Interstate 49 along the state's western border; $1.4 billion for Interstate 69 in southeastern Arkansas; and $280 million for a Highway 412 bypass in northwest Arkansas.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)