April 03, 2013 EditionAlso in this issue...
Bill Ramsey, director of Good Roads Arkansas, was the guest speaker at the March meeting of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority (NEARIFA) at the Walnut Ridge Meeting Room on March 28. NEARIFA is a member of the Good Roads Arkansas organization.
Ramsey served in the Arkansas legislature for 18 years. He served on the transportation committee all 18 years, and as chairman during the last two of those years.
"The new bridge at Black Rock, a $40 million project, is scheduled to open in late 2014, with the project being completed in 2015 when the old bridge will be demolished," Ramsey said. "Gas tax and license fees are the only income the transportation department receives besides federal help. Energy-efficient vehicles have caused a drop off in funds we receive from the gas tax.
"The 10-year, half-cent sales tax passed by voters last year was sorely needed," said Ramsey. "Walnut Ridge has benefited from the State Aid Street Program, receiving $520,000 in funds for their streets, more than any other applicant in the state."
Ramsey went on to tell the membership, "We need to get an expressway or Interstate from here to the Missouri line."
Gearhart told Ramsey that several public meetings were held in this area to try to get a four-lane highway to Missouri, but Missouri withdrew their support.
NEARIFA member C.L. Clark of Walnut Ridge said that he had attended a few chamber of commerce meetings in Missouri while he was working there. "They don't trust what Arkansas will do," he said. "I have heard all my life that if we ever get connected to St. Louis, it will be the greatest boon to Northeast Arkansas that we've ever had," Clark said.
Good Roads Arkansas will meet June 10 at the Arkansas Electric Cooperative board room in Little Rock, and Ramsey invited NEARIFA members to attend.
Mayor House encouraged municipalities and counties who are not already members to join the Good Roads group, a membership organization. The cost is $250 for organizations and $100 for individuals.
NEARIFA chairman Scott Trammel also spoke to the group about recent Intermodal activities.
"We need an Intermodal site with transmodal rails for new industry," he said. We want to create jobs for our regional area, and we know we have to work together to accomplish things."
Director Gearhart added that the executive committee is continuing to look at sites and wants the board to know they are working hard to succeed. He said one of their goals is to have a site or sites that have a Class one railroad.
Corning Mayor Dewayne Phelan told members that the East Arkansas Planning and Development District has a Regional Transportation Planning meeting in Jonesboro on April 11 and encouraged all members to attend.
Last year's slate of NEARIFA officers were presented to the membership, and re-elected for 2013. They are: Scott Trammel of Pocahontas, chairman; Nick Manatt of Corning, vice-chair; Dalton Sullivan of Pocahontas, secretary; Milton Smith of Walnut Ridge, treasurer; Don King of Hoxie, at-large member of the executive committee.