U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today said Arkansas will receive more than $1 billion from the Senate-passed highway reauthorization bill to help address critical highway needs and spur economic development. The bill passed the Senate today by a vote of 74 to 22.
Pryor said the two-year $109 billion highway authorization bill first addresses critical infrastructure needs that are not currently being met on the state level. Under the bill, Arkansas would receive $1.05 billion over two years, which would allow the state to make significant progress on major highways and roads. Earmarks of specific projects are no longer allowed, giving the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department discretion over where to allocate these federal dollars.
Investing in infrastructure through the highway bill is part of Pryor's Six Point Solution to Job Creation. This legislation will spur economic development and the create thousands of jobs. According to 2007 estimates by the United States Department of Transportation, a $1 billion investment in our highways results in 27,800 jobs annually.
"Investing in highways and infrastructure is the single, most important step we can take to create thousands of jobs and attract and expand businesses throughout the state," Pryor said. "Passing a highway reauthorization bill is part of my Six Point Solution that calls for a sustained commitment of resources to address infrastructure needs. I hope the House of Representatives will pass this legislation swiftly."
Pryor expressed concern that 32 percent of Arkansas' roads are in poor or mediocre condition and one in four bridges are structurally deficient. Additionally, Arkansas has a $160 million backlog in highway maintenance needs. He added this problem will be compounded as freight travel is expected to double over the next twenty years.