Gov. Mike Beebe was critical of the state's response to icy road conditions caused by a winter storm Sunday night, calling it "unacceptable" that northern Arkansas roads would be snow-covered while Missouri roads adjoining them were not.
Beebe spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon outside his office in Little Rock on a day Arkansas State Police and Arkansas National Guardsmen worked to provide aid to thousands of motorists stranded on Interstates 55 and 40 in eastern Arkansas.
Beebe noted that state workers from other agencies, including the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, were also dispatched to help "because apparently [highway department workers] need all the help they can get."
He said he had questions for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, an independent state agency not under Beebe's control.
"It's awful the mess they've got in over there," he said. "We've been trying to figure out why the highway department wasn't there quicker with treating those roads. They tell us what happened to them — and I have to rely on what they say — is they did pretreat them but all the rain washed it off. … That's a good question. I've asked that question, and that's the response I've gotten."
A message left with a spokesman for the highway department wasn't immediately returned Wednesday morning. The ArkansasOnline live traffic map showed at midmorning that traffic was still stalled in places along both interstates.
After a winter storm in December, during which photos surfaced showing clear roads in Missouri turning into snow-covered ones in Arkansas, the director of the highway department called the clearing effort "unacceptable" and said new equipment and approaches were being implemented.
Similar reports of icy roads in Arkansas despite much clearer ones in nearby Missouri have been circulating after the most recent wave of winter weather.
"I don't like it," Beebe told reporters. "Do you like it? I don't like it at all. I don't understand why a Missouri highway is clear and an Arkansas highway is not. If it joins right there together, that's pretty unacceptable to me."