Several Faulkner County highway improvements were identified in ‘Top 40’ projects most needed to support Arkansas’ economic growth in a report delivered Tuesday morning at the state Chamber of Commerce in Little Rock.

The report was delivered by TRIP, a Washington, DC.-based national transportation research organization.

According to the report, among the Top 40 projects affecting Faulkner County are

• Adding Two Lanes to Interstate 40. This $32 million project would add two lanes to 13 miles of I-40 from Conway to the Pulaski County Line.

This will alleviate the bottleneck of commuters who live north of Little Rock but work in the greater metro area.

• Adding Two Lanes to I-40 in Pulaski County. This $43 million project would add two lanes to 5.6 miles of I-40 from the Faulkner County Line to I-430.

According to the report, "I-40 consistently creates a bottleneck for motorists traveling to the greater Little Rock area from north of the city.

"These two projects are a continuation of capacity improvements through the corridor and will improve travel conditions for both local and through traffic."

• Adding two lanes and a center turning lane to Highway 64 in White and Faulkner Counties. This $59 million project would add two lanes and a center turning lane to 15.8 miles of Highway 64 from the Vilonia Bypass to Highway 67.

"This project will help complete the state’s four-lane grid system and increase the capacity between Conway and Beebe and points beyond," the report stated.

"The Highway 64 corridor in East Arkansas is important to the state’s economy due to the large amount of agricultural products that are transported. In recent years, this route has also been a very important link when I-40 was closed due to flooding."

County Judge Preston Scroggin said these are "badly needed" projects and have been included on the county’s "wish lists" in the last four and five years.

"I don’t think people realize the amount of traffic that goes through our county. We’ll never go wrong investing in infrastructure."

Jamie Gates, executive vice-president of the Conway Development Corp., said "The projects listed that impact Faulkner County are no surprise. They’re needed. They reveal Faulkner County’s growing role in an increasingly regional economy. They’re also much too large for us to do on our own," Gates said.

Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP said: "Investing in these transportation projects will be key to long-term economic growth and quality of life in Arkansas.

"Private sector jobs will be created in the short term, resulting in transportation, improvements from which the state’s residents, businesses and tourists will benefit for decades."

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)