Arkansas Department of Transportation

Lorie Tudor
Department of Transportation

Lorie Tudor, a 36-year veteran with the Arkansas Department of Transportation who began at the agency as a clerk typist, was named Thursday the director of the state’s high-profile department. She is the agency’s first female director.

The Arkansas Highway Commission has named Tudor as director following a special meeting held Thursday. She succeeds Scott Bennett, who announced his retirement effective March 20, 2020.

Issue 1 Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With less than a year until the November 2020 election, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and stakeholders for better roads officially launched their campaign for Issue 1, a permanent extension of a half-cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2022.

On Friday, Hutchinson kicked off the “Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1” campaign. Issue 1, referred by legislators to voters would extend the half-cent sales tax for roads in perpetuity when it expires in 2022.

gas station
AAA

Starting Tuesday, taxes on gas and diesel fuel are going up and owners of electric and hybrid vehicles will be paying more to register their vehicles. Those increases are the result of legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The tax on gasoline is going up 3 cents a gallon, while the tax on diesel will rise 6 cents a gallon. In addition to those new taxes, owners of hybrid and electric vehicles will be paying $100 or $200 dollars more, respectively, to register their vehicles each year.

Sarah Kellogg / KUAR

Part of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s highway plan needs one final vote to fully pass in the legislature. The House Committee on Revenue and Taxation approved the bill on Tuesday.

The proposed highway plan is split into two parts. The first part, a permanent extension of the half-cent sales tax on fuel, requires approval by constituents on the 2020 general election ballot. An extension of the tax is predicted to raise $205 million annually for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Interstate highway big rock interchange interstates 630 430
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

While Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a $300 million plan for the state’s highways, that total does not include the additional funding the plan will provide to cities and counties. It relies on both an increase in the existing tax rates for gasoline and diesel, as well as an extension of the existing half-cent sales tax. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Office

A renewal of the existing half cent sales tax on fuel funds more than two thirds of a $300 million highway funding plan, the largest amount of increased annual revenue to state highways in the state’s history.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says this proposed plan gives the most funding, he feels, the state can afford.

"This plan, achieves the right balance. It is affordable, it is prudent for our budget and it is reasonable," Hutchinson said.

Interstate highway big rock interchange interstates 630 430
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas lawmaker has proposed tapping into tax revenue from car sales and imposing a new tax on motor fuels to raise money for the state's highways, combining two approaches that have faced significant opposition in the predominantly Republican Legislature.

Republican Rep. Dan Douglas filed a bill Monday that he said he hoped would start the conversation on highway funding, which legislative leaders and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have called a priority for this year's session.

Andy Davis
Talk Business & Politics

A permanent half-cent sales tax for roads. An increase in the motor fuel tax. Registration fees, revenue transfers, and reforming the procurement process.

These are all ideas being floated to craft a highway funding plan in the Arkansas Legislature, according to Rep. Andy Davis, R-Little Rock, who is one of several lawmakers in the middle of discussions.

Davis appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics to discuss a highway plan and Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s state government reorganization effort.

Snow
KATV / Facebook

While severe winter weather is not entirely common in Arkansas compared to other states, the Arkansas Department of Transportation says it is well prepared for any winter weather that may come this season, even if no snow is in the immediate forecast. 

When serious winter weather does impact Arkansas roads, there is no section of the department’s budget set aside for just winter weather. Instead, it comes out of the yearly maintenance budget.

Maumelle Interchange
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After decades of discussion, construction of a new Interstate 40 interchange is getting underway in Maumelle. The nearly $15 million project will allow another access point in and out of the fast-growing city.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined members of the Arkansas Highway Commission, state legislators and city leaders for Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony. Work is expected to take 10 months to complete.

Interstate 630 construction
IDriveArkansas.com

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.