The Arkansas Highway Commission last week approved the state’s first road projects financed through federal stimulus funds by awarding $21.2 million of highway resurfacing work.

The state will receive a total of $351.5 million under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to finance 103 road and bridge projects expected to cost $421 million. Other federal funds will make up the difference, officials said.

The state Highway and Transportation Department had expected the bids opened last week to total $23.8 million, but the actual values came in almost 11% below the estimate.

The commission expects to award bids on another 33 projects totaling $111 million in late May. Unlike neighboring Oklahoma, which awarded most of the contracts from its full federal transportation stimulus allocation last month, Arkansas intends to issue the contracts over the next 12 months.

Of the state’s $351.5 million allocation, $336 million is earmarked for state highway projects. Almost $16 million will go to local projects in a four-county area in central Arkansas that includes Little Rock, and to projects in West Memphis, which is part of the Memphis, Tenn., planning area.

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