The Connecting Arkansas Program (CAP) is one of the largest highway construction programs ever undertaken by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD). In 2012, through a voter-approved constitutional amendment, the people of Arkansas passed a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to improve the state’s intermodal transportation system, including projects that widen and improve approximately 200 miles of highways and interstates.
In 2009, the 87th Arkansas General Assembly (AGA) passed Act 374 to create the Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance. The committee was tasked with determining an equitable and adequate system to properly finance transportation improvements in Arkansas and to propose and recommend highway finance legislation for the 2011 session.
The constitutional amendment to levy a temporary sales-and-use tax was included on the 2012 Arkansas statewide general election ballot after a bipartisan vote in the 88th AGA.
During the November 2012 elections, Arkansans voted to approve Ballot Issue No. 1, a constitutional amendment to provide additional funding for highways, county roads, city streets, bridges, and surface transportation. The sales tax was approved by 58 percent of voters.
With passage of Issue No. 1, the state sales tax temporarily increases to 6.5 cents for 10 years, effective July 1, 2013.
The design and construction of highway and interstate widening projects will be funded with the estimated $1.8 billion anticipated to accrue from 70 percent of the tax revenue. The remaining 30 percent of the tax revenue will be turned back to local governments for road and street projects – 15 percent each for cities and counties.
Bella Vista Bypass
The Bella Vista Bypass, which began initial planning in 2014, was opened to traffic in May 2017. The completed two-lane section connects U.S. Highway 71B to State Highway 72, as well as previously constructed portions of the bypass. Motorists in western Benton County, southwestern Bella Vista and Gravette can travel from I-49 to Benton County Road 34 (12.1 miles) without a stoplight making commutes much quicker.
Projects between Johnson and Bentonville
Projects that widened I-49 to six lanes between Highway 71B, in Johnson, and Wagon Wheel Road, in Springdale, were completed and the new lanes opened to traffic in November 2016.
Currently, a project to widen approximately 5.1 miles of I-49 to six lanes, extending from Highway 264, in Lowell, to New Hope Road, in Rogers, is 97 percent complete. It is projected this will be completed before the end of 2017. Another project, to widen approximately 3.4 miles of I-49 to six lanes from Highway 62/102 to Highway 72, in Bentonville, is 71 percent complete. Auxiliary lanes will also be completed from Highway 62/102 to Southeast Walton Boulevard with the anticipated completion of this project being early 2018.
The Bella Vista Bypass, which began initial planning in 2014, was opened to traffic in May 2017.
COMMUTERS will begin to see some relief as road work nears completion.