State Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel joined Alex Herrgott, the US Chamber of Commerce's Director of Transportation and Infrastructure, and US Senator John Boozeman on a panel to discuss the issues facing our area and the country.
"540 is full," Trammel says. "Every morning you see the congestion."
Herrgott says now it the time to address infrastructure issues, because traffic will increase as the economy continues to recover.
"If you think things are bad now, you should see two years from now," he says. "Failure to adequately address capacity on that road in the next five or ten years will increase congestion, choke out goods and services, and will have substantial negative impacts on the economy."
He says we need to expand highways and interstates across the country.
"It's not just about people getting to and from work," Herrgott says. "It's about competing in the global marketplace."
In November the Arkansas Department of Highway and Transportation plans to ask voters in to approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for the expansion of I-540 to six lanes. Trammel says the tax would last for ten years, and would also pay for the completion of the Bella Vista Bypass and part of a bypass for Springdale.
"We don't have the funding now to do these expensive and highly congested areas," Trammel says."It takes three to five years to finish those projects so I'm just hoping the people give us the opportunity now."
The panel was part of the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce's "Focus on the Economy" series.