Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee unveiled his proposal last week to fix the state’s crumbling interstate highways with bond proceeds and a diesel tax increase.
Huckabee said his bond issue and the 3-cent diesel tax hike would create a $785 million construction program to improve the “gateway to economic development in this state.”
The governor’s bill would authorize up to $575 million in bonds and envisions payback over 10 years with future federal highway dollars. Revenue flow could lengthen the payback to 12 years, since the highway commission was not willing to commit future federal funds beyond those the state would get for interstate maintenance.
The total construction program includes $13 million a year from the diesel tax hike and interest earned over the life of the plan.
Proceeds from the governor's highway program would pay for improvements on more than half of the 542 miles of Arkansas interstates – the 59% that are rated in poor or very poor condition.
Other plans that may emerge during the legislative session that have truckers worried are a toll on existing interstates and a weight-distance tax.