Tuesday, December 1, 2009

JPR & Public Transportation Committees Meet in Mena

The Joint Performance Review Committee and the House and Senate Transportation Committees met in Mena on Monday and Tuesday. Monday we met at Queen Wilhelmina State Park and after a brief introduction to the park we were treated to an interesting presentation by Representative Lindsley Smith's husband Steve on the Commonwealth College that was located in Mena during the late 30's and early 40's. I really enjoyed hearing about it.

Today we got down to business at Rich Mountain Community College where our discussion centered on Interstate Highway 49. We heard from Dan Flowers, the Arkansas Highway Commission/Department and from the I49 Coalition. When you cut thru it all what we really need to begin more work on I49 is dollars - a lot of dollars. The current estimate is roughly $3.1 billion dollars. I hope that this will kick off a new push by all of us in western Arkansas to make funding I49 a priority with our Washington delegation. I have always maintained that if the Feds will give us their money we can raise the State's portion of the funds.

There seems to be some consensus that highway funding in general needs to be increased. There is currently a "blue ribbon committee" meeting discussing different options for raising money for our roads. The cities and counties are in desperate need of additional dollars for their infrastructure demands also.

I was very proud of my Polk County constituency these last two days. They were most generous hosts to my legislative colleagues and I am confident that we will benefit from more exposure to legislative members from around the state.

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