The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department announced plans this week to complete all of its planned road improvement projects in 2014 by using gravel.
According to Dan Flowers, Director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, the AHTD will be caught up for the first time ever. Once all planned projects are open for traffic, they will go back and pave them if there is enough money in the budget. Gravel can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of asphalt.
“I know not everyone likes to drive on gravel, but this year we’re taking the attitude of ‘get ‘er done’ so the workers can experience how it feels to actually reach a goal.”
Flowers said this means the new Bella Vista bypass in Northwest Arkansas will not have to be a toll road after all. “Why wait for a paved toll road when you can drive on gravel now for free?”
Under the new arrangement, Interstate 49 will be complete several years ahead of schedule. It will be the only gravel Interstate highway in the nation. Flowers added, “Drivers traveling south of I-49 will instantly know they’re in Arkansas even if they don’t notice the sign.”
The plan has received criticism from auto dealers around the state for the potential harm the gravel may cause to new automobiles.
To this, Flowers replied, “The posted speed limit will be lower than on paved highways so there won’t be much gravel flying around. I can’t think of a better way to keep people from speeding.”