Highway Department's Fiber Optics Questioned by Panel

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas highway officials say they're willing to study whether they can allow other state agencies to use more than 600 miles of fiber optic cables the department has throughout the state.

Ralph Hall with the Arkansas Hwy. and Transportation Dept. told a legislative panel yesterday that he would discuss with the attorney general's office and the state Public Service Commission whether the contracts for the 636 miles of fiber optics could be opened up to other agencies.

Lawmakers questioned why the state agency's cables can't be used by other departments, school districts or universities.

Hall says the hwy. dept. uses the cables to transmit video and data to its satellite offices around the state and will eventually use them to establish a statewide traffic control system.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)