The Arkansas State Highway Commission is blaming truck drivers for causing construction to back up where lanes are closed for construction on interstate highways, but the trucking industry is fighting back.
According to Associated Press reports, the panel made the decision last week to ban vehicles from driving along a lane for miles past signage indicating that the lane is closed for construction ahead.
Herby Branscum Jr., commission chairman, said heavy trucks are the "big culprits." Commissioners say 18-wheeler drivers are creating long lines along the merge-for-construction lanes, forcing their way into the open lane where the lane under construction is closed.
A $575 million bond issue approved last year has been putting sections of interstates under construction.
"[The trucks are] doing it because they can, because they're bigger than everybody else," said commissioner Prissy Hickerson.
The Arkansas Trucking Association isn't happy about the attack on truckers.
"Blaming truck drivers for bottlenecks, as some highway commissioners are, is simply attempting to divert attention from the massive delays that all motorists will face soon on Arkansas' interstate highways," said Lane Kidd, President of the Arkansas Trucking Association. "These delays are due to the commission's neglect of maintaining our interstates over the last 15 years."
"The ATA opposes any measure that would levy fines on truck drivers who are attempting to merge while approaching a construction site on our interstate highways," Kidd adds. "[We] would fight any attempt by the highway department to arbitrarily levy fines without statutory approval by the Arkansas Legislature."