Research: Highway Projects Would Support Economic Growth

A national transportation research organization on Tuesday identified 40 top projects in Arkansas that would support economic growth and improve quality of life if they occur.

TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, issued the report called “The Top 40 Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth and Quality of Life in Arkansas,” and it showed many of the recommended projects to pursue are improvements that would occur if Issue No. 1 gains voter approval in the Nov. 6 General Election.

The report’s 40 projects include several Northwest Arkansas highway enhancements, including widening I-540 to six lanes in Benton and Washington counties, starting construction of the U.S. 412 Bypass of Springdale and building the first two lanes of the Bella Vista Bypass. All three of those projects would occur if Issue No. 1 is approved next week.

“Arkansas has many more road and bridge projects than it has dollars to put towards maintenance, repair or replacement,” said Mark Lamberth, co-chairman of Move Arkansas Forward, a group that’s worked to inform voters about Issue No. 1. “A healthy transportation system is vital to the growth of the state’s economic vitality.”

Of the 40 projects identified, Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said “investing in these transportation projects will be key to long-term economic growth and quality of life in Arkansas.”

“Private sector jobs will be created in the short term, resulting in transportation improvements from which the state’s residents, businesses and tourists will benefit for decades.”

It’s been estimated that passage of Issue No. 1 in Arkansas would create or support 40,000 jobs, mostly in the private sector.