One Man's Influence

Editorial


One Man's Influence
A truck emerges from the Bobby Hopper Tunnel, heading south on Interstate 49 near Fayetteville. (Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department)

Public service can be the noblest of endeavors, as the life of Bobby Hopper attested.

Hopper, the longest serving highway commissioner in Arkansas history, died July 29 at the age of 89.

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The Springdale businessman believed in the economic potential of northwest Arkansas and worked to fulfill that potential through the development of the region’s transportation network, including, notably, the construction of Interstate 540 from Alma to Fayetteville.

“Bobby Hopper was the influence that made Northwest Arkansas open to the rest of the country when he came up with Interstate 540,” Dick Trammel, a former highway commissioner, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“He knew the region could be a global leader if the transportation system could support it,” his obituary noted. And so it came to pass, and now northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest-growing, most economically vibrant areas of the United States.

And anyone old enough to remember what traveling up old U.S. Highway 71 to Fayetteville and beyond was like in the before times would do well to remember Hopper and his vision with gratitude.

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A special election will be held Tuesday on extending a property tax of 3 mills for the issuance of up to $161.8 million in bonds to fund capital improvements in Little Rock. These include streets, drainage, fire protection, parks and recreation, construction of a new district court building and expansion of the Little Rock Port Industrial Park.

The capital-improvement millage in Little Rock was first enacted in 1958, and voters have repeatedly approved extensions of various amounts. We encourage them to extend the tax again on Tuesday.

All the improvements will pay dividends, but we particularly note the funding of the expansion of the Port Industrial Park, which has served as a catalyst for economic growth of the city.