Did you know that Arkansas has the 12th largest highway system in the country? That is why improving transportation in our state is a constant effort for our Highway and Transportation Department and for legislators.

You may be noticing some construction taking place where you live now. At the beginning of July, a ½ cent temporary sales tax took effect which provides additional funding for highway improvement. This measure was approved by a majority of Arkansans on the November 2012 ballot. There is a lengthy list of planned highway projects which span all four corners of the state. You can find that list on the State Highway and Transportation Department website at www.arkansashighways.com.

In addition, you may be seeing some projects beginning to take place in your neighborhood. Thirty percent of the new tax collected goes to cities and counties across the state. This should have a significant impact on their ability to improve roads and bridges over the next decade.

Meanwhile, we want to tell you about some other changes on the road you will need to be aware of this year. During the recent legislative session, we passed several bills impacting transportation.

One bill passed allows the highway department to prohibit continuous driving in the left lane except under certain circumstances. For those multi-lane highways designated by the department, the Highway Department will place periodic signs along the road informing drivers of the regulation. The left lane can still be used for passing another vehicle or when the right lane is blocked. This law will take effect August 16.

We also passed a bill requiring drivers to move over for an authorized vehicle displaying flashing lights. Previously, this law applied to only emergency vehicles. Under the recently passed legislation, you are also required to move to the farthest lane possible from any highway department vehicle, utility truck, or tow truck that is pulled over on the side of the road with the lights flashing. This law also goes into effect this month.

With progress there are typically a few short term inconveniences. So during these new construction projects, remember to allow yourself extra time to get to your destination.

We have posted a complete list of all the changes in our transportation laws on our website www.arkansashouse.org.