- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State transportation officials have pulled bids on nine road and bridge construction projects worth an estimated $120 million due to federal funding concerns.

The Thursday announcement marks the fourth time this year the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has trimmed its list of projects during the bid-letting stage, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Rkw7oN ) reported. Seventy projects worth more than $280 million have been suspended so far.

The department has slimmed down its list of projects in case federal funding slows or stops. Congress hasn’t been able to reach a deal to extend highway funding beyond May 31.

Arkansas transportation officials say they must have enough funding on hand to pay contractors for work on existing projects.

“Not only have we been forced to withdraw $282 million from our bid openings in 2015, but there are only 24 days remaining until obligation authority expires” for the federal transportation spending, Scott Bennett, the department director, said in a prepared statement.

“We operate on a cash basis and are not willing to take risks that would jeopardize the progress of any of our federally-funded projects,” he said. “To do otherwise is not being fiscally responsible.”

The state agency said it has been examining its schedule since December of federally funded projects before each bid letting to ensure there’s enough state money available to fulfill its commitments if there are reductions or delays in federal reimbursements.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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