Traffic congestion costs drivers who live in Northwest Arkansas $103 million a year, according to a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
“If you can cut it into half, then you’ve got a real economic engine going,” said Tim Lomax with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “You’ve got a lot of population growth, a lot of job growth projected. If you can make sure that the quality of life stays good, then I think you’ve got a real chance to capitalize on all of that growth.”
Move Arkansas Forward is a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. If approved, the half-cent sales tax increase would fund Arkansas highway construction.
“This would clearly allow the state to get a lot of projects of regional significance done in a relatively short period of time. You know exactly where the money is going,” said Madison Murphy with the Arkansas Highway Commission.
The tax would be in place for 10 years.
Groceries, medicine and gasoline would be exempt.
Supporters say it would bring in more than 40,000 jobs and would fund a construction project to widen Interstate 540 to six lanes between Fayetteville and Bentonville.
“The main benefit is that, especially in this area, the four lanes will become six lanes, and the congestion that we see going to Razorback games or five o’clock or eight o’clock in the morning will be dissipated,” said Lt. Governor Mark Darr.
Others are against the measure.
“We know that tax increases can keep business from coming here and also this tax increase is going to affect most deeply the poor people, because a percentage of their income is going to be the greatest for the poorest of people,” said Jeff Oland with the Washington County Tea Party.
The proposed Constitutional Amendment #1 will be on the ballot Nov. 6.
Tuesday was the last day to register to vote in that election.