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Lawsuit Challenges The Expansion Of Arkansas' Highways And Interstates

Interstate 630 construction

A new lawsuit is challenging the use of taxpayer money to fund the expansion of highways and interstates in Arkansas that are four lanes or wider. It’s targeted at the controversial 30 Crossing project over the Arkansas River. The state Department of Transportation wants to expand that part of I-30 to 10 lanes or more.

An attorney involved with the case, Justin Zachary, says it’s not just about confronting the expansion of I-30.

"It's really challenging the application of taxpayer dollars on interstates of more than four lanes," he said. "So that does include I-30 but it's not just I-30."

The lawsuit would also challenge the ongoing widening of I-630 from six to eight lanes. Zachary says he and his plaintiffs will have to figure out how the money on I-630 has already been spent in court.

"I imagine there will be a fight about the language of the amendment prior to that," said Zachary. "That's one reason we've asked for an accounting of the funds in our lawsuit. So we know exactly what already has been spent and what is remaining."

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Richard H. Mason from El Dorado, said he joined the case because a lawsuit of this nature required a representation of people from each area in the state.

"I would say the highway expansion to four lanes is preferable to six lanes," he said. "That's more to benefit people to get to the highways up to a four-lane system and I understand the need to go to six lanes in some of the more congested parts of the state, but I don't believe the law allows that."

Zachary said if the lawsuit won, another source outside of the Connecting Arkansas Program would need to be found.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said Wednesday the department hadn’t seen the lawsuit and would not comment on pending litigation. 

Little Rock mayoral candidate Frank Scott Jr. has said during his campaign that he supports the I-30 expansion while his runoff opponent Baker Kurrus said it's a done deal and a mayor can influence what happens next.