Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray today denied a motion for preliminary injunction to stop the state Highway Commission from spending tax dollars to widen highways to more than four lanes, saying the agency is in violation of Amendment 91.
The motion is in conjunction with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the highway department’s use of funds authorized by Amendment 91, which voters approved in 2012. Amendment 91 created the Four-Lane Highway Construction and Improvement Bond; the lawsuit said the language of the amendment makes it clear the commission can’t use bond proceeds to widen highways to more than four lanes, which it plans to do in downtown Little Rock and North Little with the 30 Crossing widening of Interstate 30.
Gray disagreed, writing that the words “travel lanes,” cited by the plaintiffs, do not appear in the language of Amendment 91 and so the claims “do not properly address the text of Amendment 91.”
Amendment 91 would allow the expenditure of $1.4 billion on “four-lane highway improvements,” which it defines as four-lane roadways, bridges, tunnels, engineering, rights of way and other capital improvements, such as right-of-way acquisition.
A suit goes to trial April 4 in Gray’s court.