Meeting held between lawmakers and AHTD on icy roads

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) -This time last week thousands of drivers were stranded on interstates 55 and 40 for more than 24 hours. A joint meeting on Tuesday with both House and Senate members, along with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department discussed what they can do to prevent that from happening again.

"The best thing to do is to bring in the highway department," said Sen. Keith Ingram. "Let's look at their actions and look at what was done right, and look at areas we can improve on."

The AHTD presented a plan to invest in equipment and employees, to improve on their response to wintry weather conditions. Ingram said adding more money to their maintenance budget will happen. However, they are looking at ways to balance it out.

"There's that one percent that something bad happens through winter weather, but you can't have that equipment sitting 99 percent of the time," said Ingram. "I think we'll see some multipurpose equipment purchased."

Along with investments, Senator Ingram said the highway department will build better relationships with road departments.

"The highway department is talking about working closely with the counties and municipalities, to utilize their equipment in situations like this," said Ingram.

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director, Scott Bennett said AHTD has spent about $18 million this fiscal year in clearing icy roadways after spending about $5 million last year.

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