$2B program to improve Arkansas highways kicks off

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State transportation officials have marked the start of a nearly $2 billion construction program to improve and widen roadways with a ceremony in Little Rock.

The Wednesday event officially kicked off the department's Connecting Arkansas Program. The $1.8 billion project is funded with a 10-year, half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters in 2012.

Director of the state Highway and Transportation Department Scott Bennett says the highway program will create jobs and connect different parts of the state with four-lane highways.

The first project is a six-mile portion of the new Bella Vista Bypass from Bentonville to Hiwasse in northwestern Arkansas. It is a multiphase project to construct two lanes of what will be a 19-mile, four-lane interstate.

The other 30 projects include widening and improvement to highways statewide.

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