Highway Commission Mulls Tolls, Local Money To Help Construction

August 19, 2003 - Posted at: 12:54 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --  Arkansas highway commissioners are trying to come up with a plan to fund $15.1 billion in highway needs.

Today they said they may need to get help in the form of tolls and local financing to pay for building and maintaining highways.

Unlike construction programs in 1985 and 1991, the commission is developing a plan before receiving the money it needs and is trying to decide which highways to focus the work on.

Jonathon Barnett of Siloam Springs, the commissioner for northwest Arkansas, suggested that the commission take their case to the public and show where toll roads are feasible.  He said they need to ask local communities to pursue bond issues or partnership programs with the state to help pay for projects.

Arkansas has the twelfth highest number of state-maintained highways in the country, but is 41st in revenue to pay for highway maintenance and construction.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.