AHTD puts off 10 planned construction projects - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

AHTD puts off 10 planned construction projects

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - More than $60 million worth of state construction projects are on hold for now, all the result of uncertainty of federal-aid reimbursements from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.  The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is relying on Congress to step in and find a way to grow the rapidly shrinking trust fund.

In Pulaski County, the U.S. 70 Roosevelt Road Viaduct in Little Rock, along with the Remount Road Bridge over Five Mile Creek in North Little Rock were set for replacement in 2015.  But those projects along with eight other projects statewide are all being put on hold.

"It's not fiscally responsible to just move forward with it not knowing whether or not you'd be able to pay contractors," said Danny Straessle, spokesperson for AHTD.

That money that was supposed to fund those ten projects was coming from that Federal Highway Trust Fund and the Congressional Budget Office in Washington says that money is set to dry up by August.

"In Arkansas, more than 70 percent of the construction projects we do are federally funded," said Straessle.

The state identified the following projects to postpone starting in 2015:

  • Chicot County - Highway 165/Rehabilitation of 4.3 miles
  • Conway County - HIghways 9 & 9B/Traffic signal upgrade (Morrilton)
  • Craighead County - Highway 226/Cash Bypass Base and Surfacing
  • Franklin County - City Street/Connect Hillbilly Lane to Hwy. 23 (Mulberry)
  • Independence County - Highway 167/Widening 5.0 miles
  • Pulaski County - Highway 70 (Roosevelt Rd.)/Bridge replacement (LR)
  • Pulaski County - City Street (Remount Rd.)/Bridge replacement (NLR)
  • Various - Highways 67, 84, 79, 7, 82/Bridge painting
  • Lawrence County - Highway 63/Widening 1.5 miles
  • Garland County - County Road 79/Bridge Replacement

TOTAL = $62,234,000

"We still have 70 projects that we're going to let to bid in April, to the tune of 150 million dollars," said Straessle.  "Some of those are federally funded projects, but they have a shorter duration."

All the projects selected for postponement would take at least two years for completion according to Straessle and he said they want to avoid not being able to continue payments on something they start. 

"Based on our evaluation, if we execute all contracts that are scheduled for the April letting, the Department may not have adequate funds to ensure full payments to contractors during this period of reduced Federal reimbursements," stated AHTD Director Scott Bennett in a press release.

Bennett sent a letter to Congress last week urging action to ward off a potential shortfall of funds to be distributed to Arkansas and other states.

Straessle said the current situation Congress finds itself in is due to more money going out from the Highway Trust Fund and less coming in from the federal gas tax.  If Congress doesn't find another way to fund the trust fund, the already postponed state projects could be postponed further and it could encompass more projects down the road.