Arkansas Supreme Court rules against using half-cent sales tax to fund Interstates 30 and 630 projects

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday projects to improve parts of Interstates 30 and 630 could not be funded by Amendment 91 of the state constitution.

The Pulaski County Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit claiming the state misspent highway funds collected by Amendment 91 of the state constitution for projects to improve parts of I-30 and I-630.

According to the ruling from the high court, Amendment 91 states the funds generated “are to be used to construct and improve four-lane highways.”

I-30 and I-630 each have six lanes, and the projects are to widen and improve to eight or more lanes, according to the ruling.

In the 2012 general election, voters approved Issue 1, which was to create a temporary one-half percent sales tax for state highways and bridges, county roads, bridges and city streets.

The case will now be sent back to Circuit Court for a ruling consistent with the Arkansas Supreme Court’s opinion.

ARDOT has released a statement regarding the Supreme Court decision.

Read the statement below:

“While we respect the Arkansas Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Amendment 91 funds as they relate to the Interstate 630 and 30 Crossing projects, the decision itself is a disappointing one. We will now work with our co-defendants to determine how to advance regarding this case. This ruling emphasizes now, more than ever, the need for flexibility in funding dedicated to improving the State’s roads and bridges.

“In 2012, the Arkansas Highway Commission (AHC) and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) acted in good faith, and we believe the public voted in good faith regarding Amendment 91, which established a ½-cent sales tax committed to a program of state highway widening projects, known as the Connecting Arkansas Program.

The Connecting Arkansas Program that was promised to voters in 2012 is creating safe connections to dozens of communities across our State. The delivery of these projects is ahead of schedule. The AHC and ARDOT have worked diligently to fulfill these promises.

The 30 Crossing project is an integral part of the Connecting Arkansas Program as a central connector in our overall vision for Arkansas that was promised in 2012. Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock is the highest volume corridor in the State with 120,000 vehicles per day. The design was based on many community meetings and public hearings over an 18-month period conducted by ARDOT, and was the result of much negotiation and compromise. The work includes the replacement of the Arkansas River Bridge, which will restore its structural integrity and improve the opening for the Arkansas River navigational channel. 30 Crossing is an important improvement that was promised in 2012 to Arkansas voters. The AHC and ARDOT will begin investigating alternative ways to fund this project consistent with the Supreme Court’s order.”

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