Friday, October 19, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Keep promise on road tax

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert on Monday asked the city council to endorse a half-cent, state-wide sales tax for roads that will be on the ballot Nov. 6. The council unanimously approved the 10-year bond proposal, which Cypert said will pay for improvements that would benefit area commuters.

If passed, Constitutional Amendment 1 would pay for widening the freeway between Jacksonville and Cabot with the estimated $1.3 billion the tax will raise in the 10 years it will be collected.

“Passage of this initiative will allow the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to construct six lanes from Jacksonville to Cabot and will facilitate improvements to exits 16 and 19 in Cabot as well as free up other state funds for local and county projects,” Cypert told the council.

Cabot will receive at least $423,500 in turnback funds annually. Lonoke County will annually receive $634,627 to improve the county road infrastructure. White County would receive $782.757 annually if the tax passes, with $130,295 going to Beebe and $12,148 going to McRae.

Pulaski County would receive $2 million annually, with Jacksonville receiving $505,222 and Sherwood receiving $525,866.

In addition to paying for completion of widening Hwy. 67/167 to six lanes from Jacksonville to Cabot, the tax would fund:

• Completion of widening Hwy. 64 to four lanes between Conway and Beebe.

• Completion of widening I-40 to six lanes between Little Rock and Conway.

• Widening of Hwy. 70 to four lanes between I-30 and Hot Springs.

• Improvements to I-30 connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock, including widening the
  I-30 Arkansas River Bridge (120,000 cars a day).

Continuation of widening Hwy. 270 to four lanes from Hot Springs westward.

Sound like a plan. We have to hope that the state Highway Department will keep its promise to build these projects in the next decade. Promises have been broken in the past: Remember that a five-cent gasoline hike more than 20 years ago was supposed to pay for completion of the North Belt Freeway. That’s unlike to happen anytime soon, or maybe never since costs have shot up from $100 million to $600 million.

There probably won’t be enough money to finish the latest proposed projects, but even if half of them are completed, we’ll all benefit.