I-540 Construction Forces Increased Police Presence

Construction on Interstate 540 in Fort Smith starts next week. Local police department are preparing for the extra traffic.

“Leave sooner to get to where you’re going, so you don’t have to speed and take a chance at getting a ticket,” said Barling Police Chief Darrel Miner. “We’re gonna step up patrols by running radar and making sure people are driving safe.”

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department wants people to find alternate routes to avoid congestion.

“It’s gonna be miserable,” said Heather Seamon, a driver. “It means I’m gonna have to take another route to work. It’s gonna be a little bit longer.”

The road work will shut down one lane of traffic in each direction. “I’m gonna leave a little earlier especially in the morning because I take my son to school, so it’s gonna be very early,” said Seamon.

The construction will run on I540 from Rogers Avenue all the way to Interstate 40.

Drivers can bypass the construction and go through Van Buren, Oklahoma, or Barling.

“We are very aware through traffic is going to get much worse with anticipated traffic accident increases due to the volume of traffic,” said Det. Jonathan Wear, with the Van Buren Police Department. “We try to stay very visible as a standard practice.”

Drivers say the work needs to be done. “I’ll sit in traffic. I’ll get used to it,” said David Oberle, a driver.

Seamon might take a different route to work. “I didn’t know until now, so I’m gonna have to think about it some more,” she said.

The highway department expects the project to take about a year to a year and a half. Crews will repave the road and put in larger shoulders along the bridges to improve safety.