|Updated: 1/15/2009 8:01 am
||Published: 1/14/2009 9:52 pm
Arkansas is near the top of a new list but not in a good way. A report by a watchdog group called the Reason Foundation ranks Arkansas ninth in the country for urban interstate traffic congestion. Considering our population, it may seem a little shocking to be lumped in with states like California and New Jersey. But ask anyone who travels our roads every day and they'll tell you the ranking is spot on.
Plumbers Ben Burnett and Chancey Strickland drive across central Arkansas for jobs every day and spend hours in traffic. "Just a lot of sitting, a lot of sitting, a lot of waiting," Burnett said. But the good news is relief is coming.
One of the biggest lock up zones is the I-430 and I-630 interchange. About 180,000 cars pass through that area every day.
"A lot of people come into Little Rock to work, back out in the afternoons," said Glenn Bolick with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
The re-engineering project for that interchange comes with a $130 million price tag. Even though the department only has $18 million now, construction begins in March starting with the addition of a new lane to the ramp from I-630 westbound to I-430 north. If you're headed southbound on I-430, the way you'll access Chenal will change too.
They'll be building a new ramp that will link I-430 southbound Hermitage. You'll take that road to Financial Center Parkway or Chenal. And Arkansas may get $200 million in federal assistance to help pay for that and other projects.
"We're pretty excited with president-elect Obama's stimulus package," says Bolick.
Another big snarl spot? Highway 67-167. But that widening project should wrap up in about a year. "We're getting real close to having a 6 lane road from I-40, really from Little Rock, all the way to Jacksonville pretty soon," says Bolick.
Bolick says if you want proof that relief is coming, look at the success of the Saline County I-30 widening project. "Used to be it would take you an hour to get from Benton to go to Little Rock to go to work you know, and now you get there in half the time," says Ben Burnett.
Bolick says the highway department is also pleased the I-40 widening project from I-430 to North Little Rock relieved some traffic congestion. But there are requests for about $1 billion worth of other road projects across the state, and the state is at the mercy of funding and resources to get them all done.