(a) The State Highway Commission shall be vested with the following powers and shall have the following duties:
(1) To divide the state highway system into such maintenance and construction districts as the commission deems reasonable and proper for the performance of its duties hereunder;
(2) To let all contracts for the construction, improvement, and maintenance of the roads comprising the state highway system upon such terms and upon such conditions as required by law;
(3) To comply fully with the provisions of the present or future federal aid acts. The commission may:
(A) Enter into all contracts or agreements with the United States Government relating to the survey, construction, improvement, and maintenance of roads under the provisions of any present or future congressional enactment;
(B) Submit any scheme or program for construction or maintenance as may be required by the Federal Highway Administration, or otherwise provided by federal acts; and
(C) Do all other things necessary and proper to carry out fully the cooperation contemplated and provided for by present or future acts of the United States Congress for the construction, improvement, and maintenance of roads in rural or urban areas;
(4) To establish a program of current and long-range planning for the state highway system and to develop and coordinate a balanced statewide unified transportation plan for all modes;
(5) To establish highway policies and administrative practices for the guidance and direction of the Director of State Highways and Transportation;
(6) To prepare the budget request, expenditures programs, and periodical allotments;
(7) To investigate highway conditions and official conduct of Arkansas Department of Transportation personnel;
(8) To gather and tabulate information and statistics on road building, maintenance, and improvements and to disseminate them through the state through appropriate channels;
(9) To employ labor and lease equipment;
(10) To establish a merit system under the merit council and a job classification system and a salary scale in the department;
(11) To make purchases of materials, supplies, and equipment as provided by law;
(12) To sell all obsolete equipment, surplus supplies, and material that cannot be used by the department, and the commission is authorized to furnish evidence of title to the purchaser. Sales shall be made according to law;
(13) To adopt rules and regulations to implement the commission’s powers;
(14) To adopt reasonable rules and regulations from time to time for the protection of, and covering, traffic on and in the use of the state highway system and in controlling use of, and access to, the highways, except that no provision contained herein shall be construed as repealing the existing “rules of the road”;
(15) To bring suits to enforce demands of the state under this chapter and cause all suits to enforce any contracts or demands arising under the provisions of this chapter to be brought by the Attorney General in the name of the state;
(16) To restrict certain trucks when traveling on freeways with six (6) or more lanes from traveling in the furthermost left lane of the highways and to post signs compliant with the manual and specifications adopted pursuant to § 27-52-104 to notify motorists of the restrictions under this subdivision (a)(16);
(17) To establish by properly promulgated and adopted rules reasonable fees that are necessary to carry out the powers and duties of the commission for applications, permits, licenses, and other administrative purposes including but not limited to driveways, logos, billboards, signage, sign visibility, and weight restricted roadway maintenance to support the administration and operation of programs for which the fees are assessed;
(18)(A) To propose and submit rules regarding the:
(i) Criteria for distribution of funds and the distribution of funds from the:
(a) State Highway and Transportation Department Fund; and
(b) Road and Bridge Repair, Maintenance, and Grants Fund; and
(ii) Spending priority designated for highway construction contracts and public road construction projects by the department and the commission, including the criteria used to establish the spending priority.
(B)(i) The commission shall submit the proposed rules required under subdivision (a)(18)(A) of this section to the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council for review.
(ii) Proposed rules required under subdivision (a)(18)(A) of this section that are under consideration at the time the act passes do not require review by the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council prior to implementation but shall be submitted to the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council by October 1, 2017, as a report.
(iii) The proposed rules required under subdivision (a)(18)(A) of this section are not required to be promulgated under the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, § 25-15-201 et seq. , but shall be published after review by the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council; and
(19) To provide the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council with a report on the progress of each public road construction project of ten million dollars ($10,000,000) or more at least quarterly or as required by the Highway Commission Review and Advisory Subcommittee of the Legislative Council.
(b) The rules and regulations, together with any additions or amendments thereto, prescribed by the commission under the provisions of this chapter shall have the force and effect of law. Any person, firm, or corporation violating any rule or regulation or any addition or amendment thereto shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than five dollars ($5.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100) for each offense.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the commission shall have the authority to enter into contracts that combine the design, construction, and construction engineering phases of a project into a single contract that shall be referred to as a “design-build project contract”.
(d) As used in this section:
(1) “Highway construction contract” means a contract for the construction, restoration, reconstruction, renovation, or repair of a road, highway, bridge, overpass, interchange, right-of-way, or turnpike that is part of the state highway system; and
(2) “Public road construction project” means the construction, restoration, reconstruction, renovation, or repair of a road, highway, street, bridge, overpass, interchange, or right-of-way in which the construction, restoration, reconstruction, renovation, or repair is to be performed or is initiated by the department or the commission.
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