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Arkansas Unpaved Roads Grant Program

Grants to Arkansas Counties and Unincorporated
Areas to Improve Rural Road Sytems

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) - Division of Rural Services (DRS), and Arkansas Rural Development Commission (ARDC)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

03/07/19 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $75,000 to Arkansas counties and unincorporated areas to improve unpaved roads in rural areas throughout the State. Applicants requesting more than $25,000 must first schedule a meeting with program staff. Required environmental training must be completed before applying. The purpose of this program is to enhance road systems in rural counties while reducing the negative environmental effects of unbound road surfaces on priority water resources.

The Program focuses on best management practices (BMPs) that reduce the impact of sediment and road runoff to streams, rivers, and drinking water supplies while reducing long-term unpaved county road maintenance costs.

The Program is designed to fund work on public roads with unbound road surfaces. These are surfaces of natural material or crushed aggregate that have not been incorporated into a bound layer using asphalt, oil, or other such binder. For the Program, driving surface aggregate (DSA) is NOT considered “paved” even though the material looks similar to pavement/concrete and is laid with paving equipment.

What Types of Projects are Eligible:

Program projects eligible for funding must focus on both unpaved road improvements and sediment reduction that is negatively impacting, or could negatively impact a named, priority water body covered by the Program.

Projects should focus on worksites (identified pollution sites) and environmentally safe practices (ESM) to reduce pollution while providing a more stable unpaved road. Only projects that provide some form of environmental benefit, typically by reducing sediment and concentrated drainage to waterways, will be considered for funding.

Priority Water Bodies In Order of Program Priority
-A water body containing an aquatic species listed as threatened, endangered or a candidate species by the Federal Government;
-A water body that has been determined to be impaired as a result of turbidity or sediment;
-A water body used as a drinking source for people;
-A water body used as an interstate waterway;
-A water body the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had determined contains a species of greatest conservation need;
-A water body important to agricultural or pasture land use; or
-A water body important to forestry land use.

Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance:

An Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) certified person must be in charge of work plan development and project implementation for the applying entity. ESM training for the Program is a one-day course that covers the road maintenance practices employed by the Program. ESM training is made available at no-cost to potential grant applicants – such as county judges, county roads personnel, and other interested parties. It is highly recommended that all persons representing the county who have a significant role in the Program attend ESM training, to include county administrative staff. ESM training must be taken once every 5 years to maintain certification.

Some examples of ESM principles are as follows:

-Road/Stream Interactions: ESM practices for stream crossings focus on reducing the sediment delivery to a river or lake, riverbank stability issues, and the river crossing itself. Practices such as high water bypasses, French mattresses, proper stream crossing sizing, better bridge and pipe design, and in-stream flow control structures can be effectively used to stabilize the unpaved road/stream interface.

-Unpaved Road Surface: ESM practices for the unpaved road surface include drainage control and improved aggregate. Drainage control starts with proper crown and cross-slope, but also includes practices such as grade breaks, berm removal, and broad-based dips. Improved surface aggregate focuses on the Program’s Driving Surface Aggregate and includes maintenance concerns such as grading and pothole repair.

-Unpaved Road Base: Practices that improve the base of a road include mechanical base improvements, underdrains, French mattresses, and in some cases full-depth reclamation.

-Vegetation Management Practices: Practices that manage vegetation in a sustainable manner will reduce erosion from the unpaved road area and save on future maintenance costs associated with tree trimming and cleanup. Practices include selective thinning, proper pruning, seeding and mulching, and managing vegetation for long term stability.

-Unpaved Road Bank Management Practices: Practices that stabilize the upslope or downslope road bank include slope reinforcement, filling the road profile, naturalizing bank shape, and natural or mechanical slope reinforcement.

-Unpaved Road Ditch and Outlet Stabilization: ESM practices for ditches include anything that reduces the flow in the ditch. The simplest of these practices is to provide more drainage outlets in the form of new turnouts and cross pipes. Selecting locations to outlet water and choosing the proper outlet stabilization methods is also important. Other practices such as berm removal and filling the road profile attempt to eliminate ditches completely and promote sheet flow. Practices to reduce the effect of subsurface flow such as underdrains are also important.

Eligible Project Expenses:

Applicants may apply for the full or partial costs of materials, equipment, and labor required for implementation of the grant project.

Material expenses on a project include but are not limited to items such as pipe, stone, fill, fabric, aggregate, etc. Products with the potential ability to leach off the road (such as dust suppressants) must meet Arkansas state standard requirements for non-pollution.

Program projects are often completed with applicant-owned equipment. In most cases, this will be county-owned equipment. Reimbursement of applicant-owned equipment costs may be an eligible expense under the Program as: 1) the accepted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rates if submitted with the grant application and/or; 2) legitimate quote or invoice acceptable by DRS and/or; 3) The labor is $18.04 per hour, unless sufficient documentation from a specialist is provided to DRS to justify another amount.

Often, projects may require equipment that the applicant does not own. It may be an eligible expense for an applicant to rent or lease equipment necessary to complete a project with Program funds. Equipment rented or leased with Program funds can only be used on the project for which it was rented or donated. Grant funds from the Program cannot be used to purchase or maintain equipment.

Some projects may be completed entirely by subcontractor where no unpaved road work is performed by the applicant. Applicant should follow standard procedures regarding project bidding and working with sub-contractors. DRS will make payments to the grant recipient (in most cases this will be a county), not directly to the grant recipient’s sub-contractors.

Most projects will require permits and/or engineering or consultant work to design and complete. Program funds can be used to cover engineering, permitting, or similar consultant costs, but such costs are limited to a maximum of 10% of the total contract between the DRS and the grant recipient. Note this limit is defined as up to 10% of the contract amount (Program contracted funds), not 10% of the total project value (which could include in-kind or other funds).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177145

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants with an eligible project may apply for up to $75,000 in state matching funds toward a single project.

Term of Contract:

An applicant should only apply for what can be completed and funded within the project timeline of one year.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Public entities that own and maintain public roads in Arkansas that are open to public vehicle travel at least eight (8) consecutive weeks a year are eligible to apply for grants for Program funding. Counties are the primary applicants for Program funding. Other unincorporated areas with public, unpaved roads can also apply for funding as long as the entity has capacity to implement and manage a Program grant.

In determining applicant eligibility, it is important to focus on the entity that owns and maintains the road itself, not necessarily the land the road traverses. Often one entity owns and/or maintains the road through the property of another entity, for example a County-owned road might traverse through a State Forest, Wildlife Management Area, or National Forest. The entity that owns and maintains the road corridor is the entity that is eligible to apply for Program funding. In this case, the county would be the eligible applicant. The county must gain the approval of the County Judge to apply.

Projects not eligible for funding consideration under the Unpaved Roads Program include, but are not limited to:

-Roadways that have bound surfaces including oil, asphalt, concrete, or any mixture of sealed aggregate.
-Roadways that are not negatively impacting a priority body of water.
-Public roads that are open to the public for less than eight (8) consecutive weeks.
-Any and all private roads.

Note: Applicants are not eligible for an Unpaved Roads Grant if the county has an Unpaved Roads Grant currently open. Once the grant has been closed out, applicants are eligible to apply.

Salaries and other associated personnel expenses are not eligible.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Arkansas Unpaved Road Grant Program Training Workshops:

12/04/18 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
5555 Cynamide Road, Benton, Arkansas, 72015

01/09/19 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
5555 Cynamide Road, Benton, AR, 72015

More information about the December 4 conference:

More information about the January 9 conference:

To register, fill out the registration form (found in Supporting Documents below) and email or fax to Brenda Rowell.

Pre-Application Information:

The deadline for Fiscal Year 2019 is March 7, 2019.

There are two requirements that have to be met to be eligible to receive funding for the Unpaved Roads Grant Program which includes:

(1) Mandatory Environmental Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) training for at least one county representative and for the county roads personnel, such as the county road’s foreman, most involved with the construction of the project. Training certification is good for five years.

(2) Schedule a pre-site visit with grants manager to discuss the potential project before an application is submitted for funding in excess of $25,000.

All proposed and funded projects are required to have at least a fifty percent (50%) match contribution. In-kind goods and services committed by the county will include without limitation - labor, equipment use, materials, and services.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Division of Rural Services
Attn: Brenda Rowell, Grants Manager
900 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 400
Little Rock, AR 72201

Fax: (501) 682-7499

General contact information:
(501) 682.6011/1-888-RURAL-AR

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Arkansas