The head of the Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Highway Finance said last week that options for providing at least $200 million of new money each year to the Highway and Transportation Department are becoming clearer.

Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy, chairman of the committee formed by the 2009 General Assembly to find more money for road construction, said some definite proposals would be provided to the lawmakers.

“I think fairly soon we will start seeing some results of our deliberations,” he said last week at the committee’s monthly meeting in Little Rock.

The highway department estimates it will need $19.1 billion over the next 20 years to maintain and extend state roads, but current sources would provide only $4.1 billion.

The committee is looking at new taxes, and redirecting existing taxes to transportation needs.

State taxes of 21.7 cents per gallon of gasoline and 22.7 cents per gallon of diesel currently generate approximately $418 million a year, with the state receiving $292 million and cities and counties each receiving $63 million.

The 19-member panel began studying the state’s highway financing options in May.

The committee was established by Act 374 of 2009. It is scheduled to submit its initial report and recommendations to the governor by July 2010.

Arkansas has nearly 100,000 miles of state, county, and city roads, with 16,248 miles in the state highway system.

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