Arkansas officials highlight the need to fix the state’s aging roads and bridges

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — It will likely be months before traffic crosses the I-40 Bridge, but some leaders said it’s not the only roadway that needs work.

Those elected officials tried to shed light on bridges and roads in Arkansas overdue for repairs.

TRENDING: Barricade situation unfolding after vehicle related to Arkansas homicide found

“The bridge closing has had an impact on the citizens of West Memphis, many of the citizens work in Memphis, TN,” said Marco McClendon, West Memphis mayor.

Work is expected to begin on the I-40 Bridge from Arkansas to Memphis any day now. A project both Tennessee and Arkansas leaders say will affect drivers for months.

“This bridge must get repaired as quickly as possible. Not only for our citizens but businesses.”

While the focus is on repairing the I-40 Bridge, some elected officials across Arkansas are looking ahead and pushing for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan to invest in fixing other roads and bridges across the state.

“We have a million and a half people in Arkansas that are driving over what our Department of Transportation deems structurally deficient,” said Michael John Gray, Democratic Party of Arkansas.

TRENDING: ‘All I can say is months’: Officials confirm long-term closure of I-40 Bridge

During a news conference in West Memphis, elected officials discussed the American Jobs Plan, a two-trillion-dollar plan that has received pushback from Republican lawmakers in Washington and here in the Mid-South.

They said a major concern is that traditional infrastructure, including roads and bridges, only makes up about five percent of the plan.

Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has criticized the cost of Biden’s plan as “over the top.” But when speaking in Memphis yesterday about repairs for the I-40 Bridge, he said the federal government needs to be involved.

“This is not just a state-to-state issue, but it’s a federal link for our national security, whether it’s the flow of fuel or other necessary items across our country. Our federal partners are a big part in the equation and solution for the future,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said he is hopeful a bipartisan deal on infrastructure can be reached in Washington as talks there continue.

As for the I-40 Bridge, it’s still unclear what the price tag on the repairs will be and who will share that cost.