Dear Mahatma: I travel Arkansas 171 and Arkansas 290 from Malvern to Hot Springs several times each month. Both are routes to Garvan Gardens and Lake Catherine State Park. Does the Arkansas Department of Transportation have any plans for improvements in the future? Both are in need of wider shoulders and pavement work, especially Highway 290. -- Fordyce Bill
Dear Bill: Short answer is no. What, you want a longer answer?
Our main source at ArDot, David Nilles, tells us there is not anything on the books for major improvements on these two highways. Minor repairs have been done in the past couple of years. That would include drainage work and chip seals.
Having said that, ArDot engineers will examine these particular highways.
Vanity plate: JOY2ME.
Dear Mahatma: See the attached act, repealing the law against idling your vehicle, passed this legislative session. -- Faithful Reader
Dear Reader: We need all the help we can get, and it mostly comes from folks like you.
The matter at hand is the malarkey published here last week about Arkansas Code Annotated 27-51-1306, "Unattended motor vehicles."
It said, not says, no driver shall leave a vehicle unattended "without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key, or, when standing upon any perceptible grade, without effectively setting the brake and turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway."
Past tense, because Faithful Reader passed along Act 50 of 2023, which repeals all that stuff about ignitions and keys, etc. The bill's sponsor is Sen. Justin Boyd, a Republican of Fort Smith.
This isn't the first time we've missed something coming from the blizzard of laws passed during a legislative session. Back in 2019, the Ledge passed a law that, for bicyclists, allowed them to effectively turn stop signs into yield signs, and red lights into stop signs. Previously, bicyclists had to act as if they were driving a motorized vehicle.
Any mention of bicyclists makes us think of Jef, one f, a character in the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Jef's chief virtue is the scorn he has for all of us fat-bottomed non-riders.
Vanity plate seen in Conway: OATMILK.
Hey: You wrote last week that the new lanes on the Interstate 430 bridge would be open for morning and afternoon rush hour. I went south over the bridge on Tuesday and the lane was closed. -- Connoisseur
Dear Connie: The managed auxiliary lanes are typically open southbound from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The reverse happens from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
ArDot tells us an auxiliary lane will close if debris or a stalled vehicle is spotted. When the lane is cleared, green is go.
Vanity plate seen in North Little Rock on a Corvette: MCMXCVI. That's 1996 in Roman numerals, proving our high school Latin was not in vain.