Panel OKs Talks with Federal Officials on Potential Arkansas Toll Road

JULY 12, 2006 - Posted at 7:45 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Officials of the state Highway and Transportation Department have been authorized to enter into an agreement with federal transportation officials on a $211 million toll road around Bella Vista.

The Highway Commission in April approved developing 15 miles of the 19.6 mile Bella Vista Bypass as a toll road.  Yesterday, they specifically authorized department officials to negotiate an agreement to that effect.  Missouri will build its 4.6 mile section of the bypass without tolls, at an estimated cost of $60 million.

Highway Department spokesman Randy Ort said the agreement would mean the state must follow federal guidelines on toll collection and use of the tolls collected.

A consultant hired by the highway panel has projected a $1.50 cost for a passenger car to travel the entire 15-mile route of the bypass.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)