Arkansas Pulls Six More Projects Worth $55M, Citing Federal Program Uncertainty

AASHTO Journal, 26 June 2015

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department has withdrawn six more highway construction projects from its 2015 bid schedule “due to continuing uncertainty of federal-aid reimbursements available from the Federal Highway Trust Fund.”

The six projects, which had been slated for the state’s July 21 bid opening had an estimated value of more than $55 million.

scott bennett.jpg Bennett

Meanwhile, the AHTD said one project it previously withdrew from an earlier bid opening has been reinstated for that July bid. In all, Arkansas has withdrawn 75 construction projects from 2015 bid offerings, with an estimated value of $335 million.

The agency also updated its section on the national infographic state DOTs are using to explain how much funding for their transportation systems is at risk while Congress delays enacting a long-term highway and transit authorization bill.

Arkansas lists $490 million in annual federal highway funding at risk from congressional inaction, plus $32 million in federal transit funding, which account for an estimated 11,000 jobs and 220 projects.

The graphic is part of the “Nation at a Crossroads” educational campaign by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. It urges Congress to “think big” and consider what it can achieve for economic growth and quality of life by providing a long-term, sustainable source of revenue for the trust fund.

That one project the AHTD put back onto its 2015 list is “high friction safety treatment” application to various interstate highway off-ramps throughout the state. The application uses aggregates that are both polish- and wear-resistant, and channels to prevent water buildup on wet surfaces.

Maintaining the appropriate amount of pavement friction is critical in locations where drivers may brake excessively, the AHTD said, such as when going around curves or approaching an intersection.

“Delaying this project any further would mean that this temperature-sensitive work could not be completed this year,” said AHTD Director Scott Bennett. “Safety continues to be our top priority, and we’ll tighten our belts even more in order to make this happen. This is a relatively small project, but it will have a big impact on safety.”

Also in the July bid opening is an intersection improvement project in Jonesboro. It was included because that city is providing up-front funding, to ensure payments are made for work performed by the contractor in the event of reduced or delayed federal reimbursements. Its estimated construction value is between $1 million and $2 million.

“Our hats are off to the city of Jonesboro for stepping up with a solution to a problem,” Bennett said. “Their willingness to provide up-front funding will allow a project to proceed that would otherwise have been withdrawn from the July bid opening.”

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