Arkansas Transportation

Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Union Pacific, which is the largest railroad operating in Arkansas, is working with local law enforcement agencies in an effort to crack down on drivers going around lowered crossing gates in front of approaching trains. They also watch for people trespassing by walking on railroad tracks or doing anything else considered unsafe.

About a dozen Little Rock Police officers took part in an operation this past week in the southwest part of the city. It was the latest effort in an ongoing campaign.

Rev your engines! Well, not yet. The Arkansas House overwhelmingly backed a bill on Thursday to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on interstates and 65 miles per hour on other highways. If it becomes law, the five-mile per hour bump would still be subject to studies from state highway officials.

State Representative Justin Gonzalez, a Republican from Okolona, nestled between Prescott and Arkadelphia, is a fan of faster driving.

“I’d say that this bill couldn’t get here fast enough wouldn’t you agree?” Gonzalez joked to bill sponsor DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio).

State Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville).
Arkansas Times/Brian Chilson

A pair of highway funding bills – which would be referred out to voters in November – is making headway in the Arkansas Legislature. A House committee easily advanced a bond issue proposal on Thursday morning and then a new tax on gasoline. Bill sponsor Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, said he doesn’t relish the idea of a new tax but it’s needed.

“Do I like doing this? I wish we had a goose that laid golden eggs,” said Douglas, “Cause we could fund all sorts of issues but we don’t have that goose.”

Sample of Arkansas Driver's License.
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration

Arkansas drivers may soon have access to a digital driver’s license in addition to a hard copy. The Arkansas Senate advanced a bill on Monday that would create and offer a digital license as an equivalent to the physical license at traffic stops and the like.

Alongside a physical license drivers could pay $10 for a digital copy provided by the Office of Drivers Services.

Arkansas state trooper police crash wrong way
KATV, Channel 7 News

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a $3.1 million bid for highway and interstate improvements aimed at reducing wrong-way crashes.

The commission awarded the contract to Ewing Signal Construction of Nixa, Missouri. The project calls for improvements on interstate off-ramps, including sign replacements, lowered signs and other projects that officials hope will cut down on the number of crashes caused by people driving the wrong way on the ramps.

Phillip Taldo
Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will name Philip Taldo of Springdale to the Arkansas Highway Commission, effective next month. Taldo will replace Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock.

Taldo currently serves on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The governor said in a statement that economic development and highways go hand-in-hand and that Taldo would bring the necessary experience to his role on the Highway Commission.

The appointment runs for 10 years.

Taldo said he was humbled and excited by his selection.

freight train collision Hoxie
KATV, Channel 7 News

Crew fatigue brought on by irregular work schedules and a moderate form of sleep apnea is the primary reason behind a middle-of-the-night train crash that killed two Union Pacific workers and injured two others in northern Arkansas, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The panel also blamed an automatic horn that improperly reset alarms and the railroad industry's slow adoption of a system to stop trains automatically.

Emergency crews are responding to a train derailment in south central Arkansas involving at least 15 cars, including one carrying propane. No injuries were reported.

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Melody Daniel says the derailment happened after 4 p.m. Friday near the small town of Altheimer.

Daniel says some cars have been overturned while others are piled on top of one another. She says the propane is not leaking from one of the cars and Jefferson County emergency crews have contained the scene.

Broadway Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Construction work to replace the U.S. Highway 70 Broadway Bridge will prompt closure of the Arkansas River on two days next week.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department says one of the remaining two footings that supported the steel navigation arch will be detonated Monday at about 4 p.m.

Monday's demolition work on the Broadway bridge will close the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Rock Region Metro transit buses CAT central arkansas transit
David Monteith / KUAR News

Rock Region Metro is joining several other public transit organizations across the nation who hope to help voters on election day.

With candidates from all parties encouraging people to vote, residents of central Arkansas are being offered free bus rides on election day. A handful of cities in the U.S. have tried similar programs, but Jarod Varner, executive director Rock Region Metro, says this is the first time for such a service in central Arkansas.

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