NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Six scheduled highway improvement projects across Arkansas, including two in Northwest Arkansas, will now be completely funded by Amendment 91 taxes following a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

According to a press release from the attorneys who filed suit on behalf of a group of taxpayers, previously, no local funds raised through Amendment 91 had been allocated to the projects in Washington, Benton, Crittenden, Garland, Pulaski, and other counties. Instead, the $139 million for these projects had been committed to the I-30 Crossing project in Little Rock.

Attorneys Joe Denton and Justin Zachary argued that it was not permissible to use the money for the Little Rock project under the wording of the amendment and the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed.

Our challenge was about making sure those funds generated by Amendment 91 went to where Arkansas taxpayers intended when they approved the amendment in 2012. In this case, that means funding highway improvements in rural parts of the state where they’re sorely needed rather than consolidating the funds paid by citizens from across the state for a few large-scale projects in Little Rock that were clearly not permissible under the wording of the approved amendment.

attorney Joe Denton

The press release says Amendment 91 funds approved by state voters will now fully fund 2023 I-40 improvements in Crittenden County and multiple Hwy. 112 improvements in Benton and Washington Counties as well as Garland County Hwy. 270, Pulaski County Hwy. 10 and Hwy. 412 corridor improvements across multiple counties in 2024.

The attorneys note these are in addition to nine other 2021 and 2022 local highway improvement projects now funded through Amendment 91 across the state.

Amendment 91 was first approved by voters in 2012, and instituted a 0.5% sales tax over 10 years that would help pay for the $1.8-billion Connecting Arkansas Program. The program was aimed at improving over 200 miles of state highways but was limited to projects no wider than four lanes.

The I-30 Crossing and I-630 projects in Little Rock involved six-lane roads which would be widened to 10 lanes in the case of I-30 and eight lanes in the case of I-630, the release said.