Uncertain funding future puts brakes on AHTD projects

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-  Ten road construction projects have been halted because of the uncertainty of federal funds.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has stopped 10 construction projects because of the lack of funding available from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

"We would love for the project to keep going because it's definitely good for business," said Jessica Langston, assistant manager of Citgo in Portia.

One project on the list is the widening of Highway 63 in Portia. Langston said she hopes they can come up with the money.

"I personally think it's great. It will be awesome in the summer time when there's more traffic through here, people going through the river," she said.

Langston said they have noticed a lot of foot traffic from the construction crew working on the Black Rock Bridge. She expects the same thing if this project gets funding.

"So far our deli sales have doubled in the last month and they come in the morning to get our breakfast, and they come in the afternoon to get our lunch and since they're stopping here they usually fill up their dump truck or their work vehicles," she said.

But she hopes they won't have to give up some of their land in the process.

"We haven't received any news about it affecting our property at all but as far as I know they've already done the arrangements for buying the property that they will need to build the road," Langston said.

She said widening the road will also make it easier to travel through town when there is an accident.

"When the weather gets bad and the roads are icy we usually have a wreck or something over the Black Rock bridge and it will completely back up traffic where they have to close down the entire road," Langston said.

Along with Hwy 226 and Hwy 63, another Region 8 project cut from the list was the widening of Highway 167 in Independence County.

We reached out to Congressman Rick Crawford on what can be done to restore funding for these projects. He released a statement saying:

"As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I am especially interested in making sure that we fund highway projects adequately.  Increasingly it has become difficult as economic growth has slowed, driving down revenue; and, of course, Congress continues to spend far beyond its means. Rushing ahead with a new trillion-dollar entitlement program in the middle of a debt crisis is only the latest example.  Needless to say, making sure America's critical infrastructure is maintained in this environment is no easy task." 

The ten projects totaled about $60 million dollars.

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