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Author Topic: I-49 in Arkansas  (Read 764351 times)

US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2525 on: April 01, 2020, 09:20:51 PM »

I believe it is state law, which isn't going to change
State law can be changed.

Not overnight.
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sprjus4

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2526 on: April 01, 2020, 09:31:42 PM »

I believe it is state law, which isn't going to change
State law can be changed.

Not overnight.
You can't build a toll bridge overnight. Not an effective one at least.
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas / Tolling the Ft Smith Arkansas River Bridge
« Reply #2527 on: April 02, 2020, 10:04:15 AM »

Toll roads being against the Arkansas Constitution is the first issue.  It is not very likely to change. It will take a constitutional amendment.

The second and just a pertinant detail is that this bridge is not a good candidate for tolls. The mileage saved is less than 10 miles and the traffic through Fort Smith outside a couple of one hour times morning and evening is not that significant.   Unless the tolls were insignificant, it gets skipped. People would follow a free route.
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bjrush

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2528 on: April 02, 2020, 11:28:12 AM »

You obviously aren't very familiar with how Arkansas works
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2529 on: April 02, 2020, 12:14:58 PM »

You obviously aren't very familiar with how Arkansas works

I think I am.

1) Arkansans will not pass a constitutional amendment to levy tolls.
2) If by some miracle the tolls passed a vote, Arkansans would skip the tolls and go the free route.
3) Frankly, I believe this bridge is going to be built sooner than later as a free bridge.

Arkansas habitually builds a road to the point that not building or building it somewhere else is out of the question.  They have done this.

One other point. Prior to a decade ago, EVERYTHING in Arkansas was about Pulaski County and metro Little Rock.  Northwest Arkansas has gained significant clout and if nothing else, the economics of NWA deserves it.
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bjrush

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2530 on: April 02, 2020, 12:23:22 PM »

Sorry, that was directed at sprjus4. I agree with you wholeheartedly
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas / Tolling the Ft Smith Arkansas River Bridge
« Reply #2531 on: April 02, 2020, 01:01:30 PM »

Toll roads being against the Arkansas Constitution is the first issue.  It is not very likely to change. It will take a constitutional amendment.

The second and just a pertinant detail is that this bridge is not a good candidate for tolls. The mileage saved is less than 10 miles and the traffic through Fort Smith outside a couple of one hour times morning and evening is not that significant.   Unless the tolls were insignificant, it gets skipped. People would follow a free route.

Again, why I would make the amount financed by tolls very small, but the law is the law.

And for the local express bypass I usually suggest wouldn't work here, because the river crossing has little or no local population nearby.

So the bridge will be free, built someday in the future.



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sprjus4

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas / Tolling the Ft Smith Arkansas River Bridge
« Reply #2532 on: April 02, 2020, 01:49:49 PM »

The second and just a pertinant detail is that this bridge is not a good candidate for tolls. The mileage saved is less than 10 miles and the traffic through Fort Smith outside a couple of one hour times morning and evening is not that significant.   Unless the tolls were insignificant, it gets skipped. People would follow a free route.
Thru traffic is minimal through the area because there's no good access. Thru traffic currently bound to the north can follow other 4-lane routes to meet I-40 at Little Rock then follow it to I-49. The completion of I-49 between Fort Smith and Texarkana would likely draw a lot of that thru traffic, which would likely utilize a toll bridge with a lower cost. Yes, some would exit and re-enter to avoid it, though if you have a decent amount of thru traffic and a reasonable toll, it could be feasible.
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US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2533 on: April 02, 2020, 03:58:02 PM »

ARDOT: building for yesterday, sometime next week
« Last Edit: April 02, 2020, 07:59:16 PM by US71 »
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sparker

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2534 on: April 02, 2020, 05:49:57 PM »

The second and just a pertinant detail is that this bridge is not a good candidate for tolls. The mileage saved is less than 10 miles and the traffic through Fort Smith outside a couple of one hour times morning and evening is not that significant.   Unless the tolls were insignificant, it gets skipped. People would follow a free route.
Thru traffic is minimal through the area because there's no good access. Thru traffic currently bound to the north can follow other 4-lane routes to meet I-40 at Little Rock then follow it to I-49. The completion of I-49 between Fort Smith and Texarkana would likely draw a lot of that thru traffic, which would likely utilize a toll bridge with a lower cost. Yes, some would exit and re-enter to avoid it, though if you have a decent amount of thru traffic and a reasonable toll, it could be feasible.

In full concurrence with this -- if the tolls are kept at a less-than-exorbitant level (remember, this is AR, not the Bay Area in CA; $6-7 tolls won't cut it here; they should be maintained at half that level or less) then shunpiking, which would be something of a pain, even with the presence of I-540, would be minimized.  Remember that once completed I-49 will draw quite a bit of interregional commercial traffic, which tends to stay on the road and absorb sporadic tolls rather than try to save four bucks or less by adding an additional 15-20 minutes of travel time.  Tolls won't cover the full bridge cost for the near term, but they will offset some of that -- plus a sizeable part of the maintenance.  All this is assuming ORT or toll-by-plate is utilized; a cash/booth toll facility will likely yield less revenue due to expenses. 
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2535 on: April 02, 2020, 07:00:05 PM »

That's really my thinking on such a toll as well. Make it cheap enough that drivers will waste more money in spent fuel trying to go around the toll.

On the other hand, Oklahoma's turnpike tolls have been a bargain relative to other toll roads and toll bridges elsewhere in the country. Toll rates per mile on express lanes in Dallas are a lot higher than the rates per mile in Oklahoma. Nevertheless plenty of Okies here will blow more money in gasoline (and time) shunpiking than what the tolls cost. In the end it's an emotional issue for too many people.
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vdeane

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2536 on: April 02, 2020, 08:00:00 PM »

That's really my thinking on such a toll as well. Make it cheap enough that drivers will waste more money in spent fuel trying to go around the toll.

On the other hand, Oklahoma's turnpike tolls have been a bargain relative to other toll roads and toll bridges elsewhere in the country. Toll rates per mile on express lanes in Dallas are a lot higher than the rates per mile in Oklahoma. Nevertheless plenty of Okies here will blow more money in gasoline (and time) shunpiking than what the tolls cost. In the end it's an emotional issue for too many people.
I wouldn't compare a long-distance toll road with something like tolled express lanes.  Tolls on urban express lanes tend to be higher on a per-mile basis because one of the points of the toll is to keep the lanes uncongested, since the point of the lanes is to pay to avoid congestion on the free lanes.  That is not the case with a rural turnpike.
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US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2537 on: April 02, 2020, 08:00:47 PM »

That's really my thinking on such a toll as well. Make it cheap enough that drivers will waste more money in spent fuel trying to go around the toll.

On the other hand, Oklahoma's turnpike tolls have been a bargain relative to other toll roads and toll bridges elsewhere in the country. Toll rates per mile on express lanes in Dallas are a lot higher than the rates per mile in Oklahoma. Nevertheless plenty of Okies here will blow more money in gasoline (and time) shunpiking than what the tolls cost. In the end it's an emotional issue for too many people.

There's also return on investment. Make it too cheap, you lose money in the long run.
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sparker

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2538 on: April 02, 2020, 09:33:14 PM »

That's really my thinking on such a toll as well. Make it cheap enough that drivers will waste more money in spent fuel trying to go around the toll.

On the other hand, Oklahoma's turnpike tolls have been a bargain relative to other toll roads and toll bridges elsewhere in the country. Toll rates per mile on express lanes in Dallas are a lot higher than the rates per mile in Oklahoma. Nevertheless plenty of Okies here will blow more money in gasoline (and time) shunpiking than what the tolls cost. In the end it's an emotional issue for too many people.

There's also return on investment. Make it too cheap, you lose money in the long run.

I'm guesstimating that the tolls will need to be set at somewhere between 3 and 4 bucks per direction;  low enough to make the concept of shunpiking more time & trouble than it's worth to long-distance traffic, but high enough to ensure a reasonable rate of return (particularly if a dedicated bond issue is utilized to finance the project).  About the price of a couple of cups of decent coffee sounds about right (assuming the typical regional commercial driver doesn't regularly patronize Starbuck's or Peet's -- if they did there would likely be little if any problem at all with >$5 tolls!).  But it also needs to be low enough to entice those locals who have to cross the river to consider using I-49 for at least one direction!     
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sprjus4

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2539 on: April 02, 2020, 10:07:26 PM »

I'm guesstimating that the tolls will need to be set at somewhere between 3 and 4 bucks per direction;  low enough to make the concept of shunpiking more time & trouble than it's worth to long-distance traffic, but high enough to ensure a reasonable rate of return (particularly if a dedicated bond issue is utilized to finance the project).  About the price of a couple of cups of decent coffee sounds about right (assuming the typical regional commercial driver doesn't regularly patronize Starbuck's or Peet's -- if they did there would likely be little if any problem at all with >$5 tolls!).  But it also needs to be low enough to entice those locals who have to cross the river to consider using I-49 for at least one direction!     
To attract the most traffic, $2 or under would be the most optimal. Maybe $3, but nothing above.
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sparker

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2540 on: April 03, 2020, 01:44:16 AM »

I'm guesstimating that the tolls will need to be set at somewhere between 3 and 4 bucks per direction;  low enough to make the concept of shunpiking more time & trouble than it's worth to long-distance traffic, but high enough to ensure a reasonable rate of return (particularly if a dedicated bond issue is utilized to finance the project).  About the price of a couple of cups of decent coffee sounds about right (assuming the typical regional commercial driver doesn't regularly patronize Starbuck's or Peet's -- if they did there would likely be little if any problem at all with >$5 tolls!).  But it also needs to be low enough to entice those locals who have to cross the river to consider using I-49 for at least one direction!     
To attract the most traffic, $2 or under would be the most optimal. Maybe $3, but nothing above.

If it's ORT, then it could be fixed as $2 for FastPass or maybe $3+ for toll-by-plate to cover the costs of collection.  That would certainly keep the truckers on the road -- and if the locals or other travelers don't have to try to fish three or four bucks out of their jeans pockets, the somewhat increased toll won't seem steep.  Just make sure that the agency responsible for the toll administration doesn't pull shit like extraneous "fees" or "surcharges" that show up on the bill weeks later, which has occurred with toll-by-plate situations.  Nothing turns off a population just getting used to tolls than BS like that!
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2541 on: April 03, 2020, 09:51:05 AM »

It also costs money to setup a tolling authority, which will not be done here until there are multiple areas that could support tolling in order to amortize the overhead of that authority in addition to the revenue for new construction and maintenance.  It won't be done until it can be done in several areas around the state, not just for a single river crossing.  And it won't be done unless it can be shown that much of the revenue will come from outside of the state.  Arkansas is a very poor state after all.
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edwaleni

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2542 on: April 03, 2020, 11:05:09 AM »

That's really my thinking on such a toll as well. Make it cheap enough that drivers will waste more money in spent fuel trying to go around the toll.

On the other hand, Oklahoma's turnpike tolls have been a bargain relative to other toll roads and toll bridges elsewhere in the country. Toll rates per mile on express lanes in Dallas are a lot higher than the rates per mile in Oklahoma. Nevertheless plenty of Okies here will blow more money in gasoline (and time) shunpiking than what the tolls cost. In the end it's an emotional issue for too many people.
I wouldn't compare a long-distance toll road with something like tolled express lanes.  Tolls on urban express lanes tend to be higher on a per-mile basis because one of the points of the toll is to keep the lanes uncongested, since the point of the lanes is to pay to avoid congestion on the free lanes.  That is not the case with a rural turnpike.

I agree, for Okies its an emotional issue.  My uncle from Oklahoma completely resented cash tolls. He preferred the card system used by the Will Rogers at the time. My brother-in-law does too.

When driving through Illinois, he saw how many toll roads there were and how much cash it would take and drove a 2 lane US route on purpose to avoid them. Took him an hour longer to get where he was going, but he wanted to make a statement that pay-as-you-go cash tolling was unpatriotic.

I asked him how much he saved in total, about $3.50 he said. Arriving an hour late I said, well you just priced how much you are worth on an hourly basis. That didn't go over very well.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2543 on: April 03, 2020, 11:56:52 AM »

I asked him how much he saved in total, about $3.50 he said. Arriving an hour late I said, well you just priced how much you are worth on an hourly basis.

I'm not sure I agree. What it shows, in my opinion, is how much this shunpiking value of his is worth to him. I mean, if he had pulled over to, say, give someone CPR and was for that reason an hour late, then he wouldn't have saved any money at all, and so, in that sense, his hourly worth would be $0.00.
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Interstates clinched: 4, 57, 275 (IN-KY-OH), 465 (IN), 640 (TN), 985
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2544 on: April 03, 2020, 12:50:18 PM »

Quote from: vdeane
I wouldn't compare a long-distance toll road with something like tolled express lanes.  Tolls on urban express lanes tend to be higher on a per-mile basis because one of the points of the toll is to keep the lanes uncongested, since the point of the lanes is to pay to avoid congestion on the free lanes.  That is not the case with a rural turnpike.

Even compared to some other rural toll roads, such as the Penn Turnpike or Florida's Turnpike the costs are substantially lower. Nevertheless, Oklahomans frequently gripe about the turnpikes, that the toll gates should be removed because "they're paid for." None of the complainers ever bother to think how much more they'll be paying for gasoline due to a big hike in fuel taxes if those 600+ miles of turnpike are added to Oklahoma's system of "free" roads.

Quote from: sprjus4
To attract the most traffic, $2 or under would be the most optimal. Maybe $3, but nothing above.

Yeah, I think the $1.50 to $2 range might be low enough to discourage shunpiking. I think anything above $2 is going to be too much.

From the South end of AR-549 at US-71 to the I-49 interchange in Alma it's about 22 miles going through Fort Smith. Going along the future I-49 path it's about 4 miles shorter. There are six traffic signal intersections along US-71 before it reaches I-540. That's going to burn up time and gas mileage. The speed limit of I-540 is 65mph its entire length. The short segment of AR-549 has a 65mph speed limit, but a completed I-49 to Alma could have the limit boosted to 70mph or 75mph.
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sprjus4

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2545 on: April 03, 2020, 02:36:36 PM »

Even compared to some other rural toll roads, such as the Penn Turnpike or Florida's Turnpike the costs are substantially lower. Nevertheless, Oklahomans frequently gripe about the turnpikes, that the toll gates should be removed because "they're paid for." None of the complainers ever bother to think how much more they'll be paying for gasoline due to a big hike in fuel taxes if those 600+ miles of turnpike are added to Oklahoma's system of "free" roads.
I'd say a study should be completed on it. How much would it cost the state to pay for maintenance and operation along the roads, how much would a gas tax increase be needed, and if it's feasible, remove the tolls.

Kentucky scrapped the tolls on their 614 mile parkway system once they were paid off, and they seem to be doing just fine.

Quote from: sprjus4
To attract the most traffic, $2 or under would be the most optimal. Maybe $3, but nothing above.

The short segment of AR-549 has a 65mph speed limit, but a completed I-49 to Alma could have the limit boosted to 70mph or 75mph.
Beginning July 1, 2020, speed limits of 75 mph will be authorized in rural areas along controlled access highways.

The segment of I-49 may well be 75 mph once completed.

Between Texarkana and Shreveport, the LA I-49 segment is posted at 75 mph (the only highway in the state at 75 mph), though drops to 70 mph in Arkansas. It will be nice to have continuity here.
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bjrush

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2546 on: April 03, 2020, 02:43:54 PM »

They literally did this study you're asking for in 2019 and it was not close to being feasible

https://www.arkansashighways.com/I49/1-04-052b%20%20I-49%20Toll%20Feasibility%20Technical%20Report%20-%20FINAL%20with%20Appendices.pdf
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2547 on: April 03, 2020, 03:08:41 PM »

Since the AR state constitution presently forbids toll facilities, the first thing that would have to be done (pardon me for imitating Captain Obvious) is to deal with that by either deletion or carving out specific exceptions, such as "spot" projects such as the I-49 bridge (it has occurred to me that the I-69 "Great Bridge" may require a similar process).  Then some sort of authority needs to be set up; it'll have to be decided if that is an independent entity or embedded within ADOT.  Then, of course, actual determination of tolls for any facility falling under the authority's jurisdiction will have to be established -- from the various levels discussed in the previous few posts, there is some concurrence at a $2.00 maximum base level (likely the Fast Pass pricing), with other pricing structures, such as toll-by-plate, being hashed out using the base as a starting point. 

But if the state refuses to consider tolls, then the project seems to be back at "square one", despite the presence of the AR 549 southern approach road.   The speed at which the I-57 project has advanced from legislated concept to actual study (in both state venues) and planning seems to indicate a shift in priorities away from the I-49 corridor to the easterly diagonal -- possibly because much of it has already been completed, and, even pre-Interstate designation, that project has progressed farther and farther up US 67 prior to any plans to take it into MO, displaying a lot of official support for the concept in that part of the state.  Perhaps the prospect of actually finishing a corridor has rendered I-57 the "catbird" seat in state project hierarchy, since the southern half of I-49 seems to have always been surrounded by a "gloom and doom" atmosphere due to the enormity of the undertaking and the inability to fully rationalize the expense of a project that would likely benefit out-of-state commercial traffic more than local needs, particularly in a part of the state with relatively sparse and dispersed population.  At least the NWA portion of I-49 serves a sizeable and growing population base (the reason for the temporary I-540 designation back in the '90's).  But without some level of creativity regarding getting funding for I-49 in place (full-length tolling would be a non-starter) -- or at least the "keystone" piece, the river bridge -- expect the corridor to be developed with an extremely long schedule -- I'd guess 2045-50 or later for full completion.    :-( 
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2548 on: April 03, 2020, 03:32:18 PM »

They literally did this study you're asking for in 2019 and it was not close to being feasible

https://www.arkansashighways.com/I49/1-04-052b%20%20I-49%20Toll%20Feasibility%20Technical%20Report%20-%20FINAL%20with%20Appendices.pdf

Yeah, and a $2 toll for that stretch is all that they calculated would be feasible, and that never generated more than $20M/yr even 20+ years down the road.  Tolling isn't the answer and likely never will be here.
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Life in Paradise

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #2549 on: April 04, 2020, 12:44:33 PM »

Looking  at the map of the country, the I-49 gap in Arkansas is visible, and to go around it on a trip New Orleans/Kansas City is either veer over to Little Rock or go through Oklahoma (where you would have a toll road closest).  If they would work out the toll road prohibition, it would be feasible to charge significantly more than $2.00 for the stretch from Texarkana to Fort Smith.  It wouldn't pay for the road over 40 years, but it might make it workable to add with the funds available.
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