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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Data deep for tracking road costs

by Frank Fellone | February 27, 2021 at 4:18 a.m.

Mr. Mahatma: I wish there was a map of roads in our state on which were included the cost of upgrades over the years. I think a lot about the Interstate 30/Interstate 40/U.S. 67/167 interchange. There have been many changes and none seemed to make the highway safer or the road any stronger. BTW, one of my favorite places on the internet is Reddit's Data is Beautiful. -- Derek

Dear Derek: You must be a data geek. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

We checked out Data is Beautiful, and found graphic representations of virus rates, population density, and other serious topics. We were also transfixed by the graph of Google hits when it was announced that Daft Punk was breaking up.

The graph that displayed the daily weight of four kittens over a 100-day period was either tots adorb or weird. Depending. Is you is, or is you ain't, a cat person?

Back to the question at hand. The immediate thought was to head over to idrivearkansas.com, which gives a snapshot of current road projects by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. There are dozens of such projects. While 30 Crossing -- which includes replacing the I-30 bridge over the Arkansas River -- gets most of the attention, there are dozens of small projects which are important to the people who live in small places. For instance, a bridge is being replaced over Beaver Bayou on Arkansas 85 in Phillips County. Cost? $1.6 million. Cost of 30 Crossing? A billion, give or take.

But idrivearkansas gives only current projects. How to learn more?

David Nilles of ArDot offers more information. (If we graphed sources quoted over the umpteen years of this column, Mr. Nilles would surely be at the top of the fever chart.)

He says a good source on construction projects is arkansashighways.com.

Here can be found the status of the Connecting Arkansas Program. Also information on the interstate rehabilitation program. And how about the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, which lists current and upcoming projects?

Nilles also dares to give out the public information office phone number -- (501) 569-2227. No doubt, Derek, the public information folks have historical data to share.

Happy graphing, dude.

Dear Mahatma: We live off U.S. 270 in Garland County. I see intermittent embedded blue-green reflectors on many roads in our area, but I don't know their purpose. I've asked a lot of people, but they don't know what I'm talking about. -- Jojo in Piney.

Dear Jojo: Here at the traffic desk, we are an expert in not knowing what we're talking about.

But we do know what those reflectors are. They're markers of fire hydrants, a good thing to know for the firefighters.

VANITY PLATE: HPPYWFE. This reminds us of the expression, "happy wife; happy life." We're also fond of this one: "Ain't Mama happy, ain't nobody happy; ain't Papa happy, ain't nobody care."

Fjfellone@gmail.com

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