Paving New Ground for Arkansas' Highways
|"Truck drivers commented that they needed to take parts inventory of their vehicles afer traveling through Arkansas. Motorists visiting our state pledged never to return because they feared for their safety on Arkansas' interstates. Those were the conditions of Arkansas' two major interstates before a proactive solution was created in the late 1990s. The work we've done during the past decade provide a level of pride and safety that can make all Arkansans proud."|
Imagine the roof of your house has a leak. Most likely, it starts out barely noticeable, maybe even not much of a concern at the time. But ignore it and it still won't go away. In fact, it will soon grow to an uncontrollable level requiring enormous expense and considerable effort to repair.
Such was the state of the Arkansas interstate system when Mike Huckabee became governor. In fact, roads in Arkansas had been ignored, with maintenance and repair under funded, for so long the interstates were not only uncomfortable but dangerous to drive for even short distances. Interstates 40 and 30 had deteriorated to the extent long-haul truck drivers identified them as among the worst in the nation. Frankly, Mike Huckabee and most Arkansans didn't blame them. Clearly, something had to be done, and soon.
Mike Huckabee decided to try what had been so successful for the state just a few years previously and took his plan to the people. Thanks once again to Arkansas voters and their ability to recognize a good plan when presented to them, the "Save Our Roads" bond initiative was a success and a huge interstate rehabilitation program was undertaken. As a result, drivers on Arkansas interstates now experience what is one of the safest and most comfortable rides in the nation. Where a decade ago, truck drivers dreaded crossing Arkansas, today trucker publications regularly select Arkansas' interstates as the most improved highway in the nation.
For a half-century now, our nation's interstate system has been a bulwark for transportation and commerce, and in Arkansas it is no different in our state. While much of Arkansas’ early economic development centered on river and rail traffic, the success of our state’s recent past has depended upon the interstates. Today, 655 miles of interstate highways form the backbone to the Arkansas state surface transportation system and as a result of Mike Huckabee's vision and effort, form one of Arkansas' greatest public works assets. In previous years, Arkansas' broken interstate system was a factor in preventing economic development, encouraging new companies to steer clear of Arkansas. On the flip side, today, smooth interstates now serve to Arkansan's economic advantage.
The decade of Mike Huckabee's leadership will always be remembered as a time when Arkansans proactively decided to rebuild and restore our interstates. No one says it was easy or inexpensive. To that point, since the approval of the bond initiative in 1999, more than 50 projects totaling approximately $1 billion have been let to contract, improving more than 350 miles of Arkansas’ interstates. Highway construction has not been inexpensive, but the cost has been worth it. Today, thanks to Mike Huckabee, it is clear that Arkansas' interstates are much safer now, and Arkansans continue to see and feel direct evidence that the efforts of the past decade have been fruitful.