The U.S. Department of Transportation designated Interstate 540 from Alma north to the Missouri border as Interstate 49 today (June 25). The dedication ceremony for Interstate 49 was located in the parking lot of Grace Church of Alma at 11:00 a.m.
"Our neighboring cities and partners here in the south end wanted to also do some sort of dedication and just draw attention," said District Engineer Chad Adams. "It's the next step and continuing I- 49 down south through Arkansas and connecting to Louisiana."
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and a number of Arkansas River Valley leaders gathered to reveal the new I- 49 Interstate signs. Interstate 49 represents 1700 miles of Interstate highway between New Orleans and Canada. The longest section is 185 miles between Fort Smith and Texarkana in Arkanasa. Also, an eight - mile section near the Missouri state line and Bella Vista. The completion of I- 49 will have a 13 - mile stretch from Alma to Chaffee Crossing with a new bridge over the Arkansas River.
" This will make us a transportation contender in the industry so that's really important," said Ivy Owen with the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority.
These new signs cost $75,000. The funding came from the statewide maintenance budget.
According to Adams, this ceremony hopes to draw attention to the need for more funding.
Particularly the bridge that would cross the Arkansas River.
"There`s no funding in place," said AR Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel.
"It all depends on federal funding," Trammel said.
Trammel said they have a petition set up to help gain the needed funds.
Trammel was unable to give an estimated completion date for the bridge.