North Belt Freeway project remains in limbo

(KATV) There is another bump in the road for the North Belt Freeway that would stretch from Jacksonville, over Camp Robinson to Maumelle. It has been in the planning stage for 60 years now, but continues to be put on hold.

You will find people who really want the freeway, others who don't see the need but all will likely agree they don't want pay for it. Wait until you here the outrageous cost per mile.

It is a 13 mile stretch. At the most traveled segment, it could see 40,000 drivers a day. Serving people in the North Pulaski, Cabot area - commuting to Maumelle and West Little Rock.

1991, is the year the North Belt Freeway was close to being built but highway improvement funding ran out before they got to the project.

Jim McKenzie is the Executive Director for Metroplan. He says, "The pricing on the project had gone up from about 300-million to nearly 600 million and when you figure the other cost in, it is closer to 800 million dollars."

McKenzie says even in the best of circumstances, the toll road revenue would leave a half a billion dollar funding gap.

After seeing the latest figures Wednesday, the board voted to remove the project from the list of long range plans. It has not been completely dismissed. For now, the property including wetlands remains reserved.

The unknown leaves another issue, "It really is keeping us from investing in other roadways that could help carry the traffic load in that northern corridor in the metropolitan area."

The Highway Commission still needs to be briefed on the study and a public input meeting is planned for this summer.

This would be the first toll road in the state. You cannot toll an existing interstate, unless you add a lane. A study is being done right now to add a lane and toll the I-40 stretch from Memphis to Little Rock.