Drivers in Northwest Arkansas could experience traffic delays as construction projects are set to begin soon.
The widening of Interstate 540 is one of the larger projects that will take place. A sales tax increase that would fund $1.8 billion in highway work across the state was approved by voters in November.
“Research showed the congestion in the two counties, Benton and Washington, was about $103 million dollars in gasoline, lost time, those sorts of those things,” said Rob Smith, Northwest Arkansas Council Communications and Policy Specialist.
The I-540 widening project began last year, when a third lane was added from Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard to Wedington Drive in Fayetteville.
Next in line on the construction project list, widening Wedington Drive to Porter Road which will begin next month.
The Highway Department will put a new bridge that will lengthen the bridge over Porter Road, according to Danny Straessle, Arkansas Highway Department Spokesman.
Construction projects that will begin in 2015 include:
Interchange improvements at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Wedington Drive and Garland Avenue.
Also in 2015, will be the widening from Porter Road to Highway 412 in Springdale.
Construction on the Don Tyson Parkway interchange has already begun which will give drivers more access to I-540.
Although this will impact drivers on I-540 it’s part of the city bond project.
“When you just take our road projects that we are going to be doing and couple that with what the Highway Department is going to be doing with the half-cent, people are going to see a lot of orange barrels for a while, but it will be worth the trouble,” said Doug Sprouse, Springdale Mayor.
Construction on the Don Tyson Parkway interchange is expected to be completed by fall 2014.
All the road projects are in effort to accommodate the rapid growth in the region.
“If you look at the census statistics you know we are adding 23 to 25 people a day, and that is our net gain so, the truth is more people are moving here than that then you leave that every day,” said Smith.
The Highway Department estimates the widening of I-540 to be completed before 2020.