STOP IT: Lawsuit asks for halt to I-630 work.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arkansas Department of Transportation expenditures from voter-approved bond money on freeway improvement projects wider than four lanes now asks for an injunction against ongoing work on the Interstate 630 freeway through Little Rock.

In November, five plaintiffs, with Justin Zachary as lead attorney, filed a taxpayer’s lawsuit challenging the planned use of state bond money on the Interstate 30 project through downtown Little Rock. That project uses money authorized by Amendment 91, which in its plain language says its purpose is “four-lane highway improvements.” The I-30 project will construct a road of 10 lanes of more.

Today, Zachary announced a motion asking for an injunction to stop current work. The papers refer to the work currently underway to widen the six-lane Interstate 630 freeway in Little Rock. It seeks to stop spending money on roads already wider than four lanes or to expand those already four lanes wide.

Plaintiffs argue:

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“…in virtually all places in Amendment 91 where the words ‘highway,’ highway system, ‘highway improvement’ or derivations thereof are used, they are in every instance preceded by the words “Four-lane.” That is also true of all references to the ‘Four-Lane Highway Construction and Improvement General Obligation Bonds’ and to the ‘Arkansas Four-lane Highway Construction and Improvement Bond Account.’ In all cases, the bonds or bond account are referred to as ‘Four-lane’ bonds or ‘Four-lane bond account. There is nothing ambiguous about the word ‘four.’”

Despite the clear language of Amendment 91, these taxpayer raised funds are currently being used for expanding interstate highways that are not four (4) lanes.

The State is currently using $58 million generated from the sales tax increase for expansion of approximately 2.5 mile portion of the existing six-lane Interstate 630 highway between Baptist Medical Center entrance/exit to University Avenue to eight or more lanes.

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To avoid any further harm from the continued spending of these funds, Plaintiffs have asked the Court for a temporary order stopping the expenditure of these funds until a hearing can be set.

The request for an injunction says the department, the Highway Commission and Scott Bennett have managed to avoid for more than a month to be served with the lawsuit. The injunction request says the I-630 project is the only one currently underway and the state wouldn’t be unduly damaged by a cessation of that work.

The release, motion and brief can be read here.