MARCH 4, 2004 - Posted at 7:49 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas highway officials says the state has turned the corner in upgrading its once-crumbling highway system.
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department Director Dan Flowers says 70 percent of the state's 16,000 miles of state highways are in good condition, compared to just 22 percent five years ago.
The improvements came from a five-year, $1 billion highway improvement program scheduled to end next year.
The department is holding the series of regional hearings to consider what to do about a projected $11.8 billion shortfall between available state highway funds and funding needed to maintain existing highways over the next decade.
Commissioner Prissy Hickerson of Texarkana says the hearings have a different tone from hearings a few years ago. She says residents are now sometimes praising road conditions.