Road Project to Reduce Lanes on I-540 in River Valley

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Thousands who commute on Interstate 540 could soon see some serious delays. Construction between Fort Smith and Van Buren will start later this month.

Joe Shipman, the District Engineer for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said the construction should begin sometime in the next few weeks.

"The work will consist of the replacement of a select number of bridges to improve the safety of the highway with wider bridge decks," Shipman said.

Shipman explained they'll be putting in larger shoulders along the bridges to improve safety. They will also be re-paving the road from Highway 22 north all the way to Interstate 40, according to Shipman.

The project will shut down one lane of traffic each way, Shipman said.

The details of the project are still being worked out. But Shipman estimates the entire project will take close to a year.

"It's a 153 working days for this contract so that's a little over a year. It will probably a year to a year and a half," Shipman said.

Even though construction hasn't started yet, drivers are already saying the road work on I-540 will cause headaches.

Oakie Demoss, who lives in Fort Smith, said he drives on I-540 several times every week.

"I-540 means a lot to me because my wife is in the hospital up in Fayetteville," said  Demoss.  "This open corridor here is what I need to get up to see her."

Demoss said he's not excited for construction to begin, but that having an improved interstate is better than the alternative.

"We lived without it at one time or another, but now that we have it we don't want to give it up," Demoss said.

The exact date that construction will start is still in the works. The Highway Department says they'll be releasing more information about the I-540 construction project Monday.

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