LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Until recently, Little Rock Public Works was forced to put road repair projects on the back burner -- but now the department is getting a much needed boost from the one-cent sales tax increase.
Even though the thought of rain seems like a distant dream for many Arkansans, the public works has to keep water in mind to prevent major damage later.
The summer Arkansas heat fills the headlines of news outlets and a lot of barber shop talk, but Little Rock Public Works plans beyond the hundred degree temps because they know the power of rain.
"When it rains hard this street right here in front of us for at least 500 feet becomes a big pond," says Public Works Director Steve Beck
Beck says the penny sales tax increase of 2011 will help the department start chipping away at a to-do list between $750 million and a billion dollars.
"We've got needs everywhere. You don't have to look hard to find a need in the way of streets and drainage," says Beck.
Beck says Public Works hopes to extend the life of current roads and drainage systems and bring below par systems up to speed. A storm drain on Windamere Drive floods after a heavy rain but public works officials say now that the money is in, the fix should be quick.
"It's just one short run of pipe and it's only going to deal with a couple of property owners as far as obtaining the easements as needed. This project will probably take about two or three months in design. Then it will go to bid and a contractor will probably complete this project in about two months," says Eric Petty, Operation Manager at Little Rock Public Works.
Beck says Public Works has already authorized 6 million in road and drainage repairs for this year and in the years to come the sales tax increase will go to each ward equally. Even though 72 million is only about a tenth of what the department needs, Beck says it's a start.
"For the twelve years I've worked here whenever someone asks you can you do something. It's been an easy answer and that answer is we don't have the money fortunately we've got money now," says Beck.
Now each ward will see road and drainage projects popping up over the next 10 years.
The money timeline right now estimates three cycles of around $3 million for each ward.
There will be public input meetings sometime this summer to set priority for projects. A couple of locations on this year's project list include road repair on Markham street near University Drive and Shackelford Road near Kanis Road.