LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, joined by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday released a study detailing the economic impact of increased spending on Arkansas roads and highways.
The study, conducted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, found an additional annual investment of $478 million is needed to maintain and preserve Arkansas’s existing highway system would result in a statewide economic impact of at least $1.3 billion, while creating 5,729 jobs throughout all sectors of the state’s economy, according to a news release.
The $478 million investment figure is based on a 2017 report by Arkansas Legislative Audit, which determined that is the additional amount needed annually just to meet the state’s current highway and bridge maintenance and improvement needs.
“This study is another blunt reminder that few things impact the quality of life in Arkansas like good roads that connect and link us,” said Joe Quinn, executive director of Arkansas Good Roads Foundation. “People want safe roads that make it easier for new business, new families, and tourists to come to their area. We need to find a long-term solution to shrinking the gap between what we need to spend maintaining and building roads, and what we are actually spending,” said Quinn.
“Adequate transportation infrastructure is vital to Arkansas’s ability to attract and keep industry here,” said Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
“It is essential that our state find a way to make the kind of road funding investment that will at least maintain our current system. To know that investment would also result in the creation of thousands of new jobs and an economic boost of millions of dollars throughout the state, means we can’t afford not to act.”
It is estimated that driving on Arkansas roads in need of repair costs the average Arkansan $589 each year, the news release said. In addition, well-maintained roads are essential for the safety of Arkansas motorists. Studies show poor road conditions contribute to more than half of all roadway fatalities, and Arkansas saw 545 roadway fatalities in 2016.
“Arkansans deserve a highway system that is safe, reliable, and that will help our state move forward,” said Kevin Coakley, board president of Associated General Contractors of Arkansas. “A significant investment in Arkansas highways is not only needed to simply repair and maintain the roads we have, but this study shows it will provide an economic shot in the arm to communities across our state,” said Coakley.
The study shows construction activity from $478 million in additional highway investment would increase sales outputs for business in all sectors of the state’s economy by $941.6 million each year, and would result in increased state and local tax revenue of $56.7 million annually.
KEY FINDINGS OF ARKANSAS HIGHWAY INVESTMENT ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY
Arkansas faces MAJOR transportation infrastructure challenges. Nearly a quarter of the state’s lane miles are in “failing” condition; more than half are rated a “C” or “D” grade. In 2016, 545 Arkansans lost their lives on Arkansas roads, and it is estimated road conditions contribute to more than half 52.5 percent of all roadway fatalities.
In addition, driving on Arkansas roads in need of repair costs each Arkansas driver $589 per year.
An annual $478 million increase in Arkansas’s highway, street and bridge investment would:
• Allow for the needed maintenance and repair essential to preserving the
• Result in a total impact of $1.3 billion in increased economic activity
across the state
• Increase sales and output by businesses in all sectors by $941.6 million each
• Create 5,729 jobs throughout all sectors of the state’s economy
• Generate additional state and local tax revenue of $56.7 million each year
Information provided by the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, which was founded as the Arkansas Good Roads/Transportation Council in 1975. The Foundation’s purpose is to promote adequate funding and financing for the planning, development, construction and maintenance of a safe and efficient highway, road, street and bridge system that facilitates statewide economic growth, thus increasing private-sector job creation and retention.