Some Road Projects Still Up In The Air After I-540 Name Change

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State highway officials on Wednesday renamed Interstate 540, opting to designate it Interstate 49. While more than 700 new highway signs will be installed over the next month, a few planned projects along the interstate remain grounded.

Highway administrators plan for I-49 in Arkansas to be part of a larger project directly connecting Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through a single highway. Before that can be finished, though, some local projects must be completed, including the planned bridge over the Arkansas River, connecting I-49 from Alma to Barling.

Officials are unsure when the bridge will be finished because no money has been set aside for the project.

Chad Adams, a representative for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, said there are also other sections of the interstate lacking funds that will need to be addressed in the future.

“The two portions through south of Fort Smith to Texarkana, it’s an estimated cost of a little over $2 billion, and the funds are not available at this time,” Adams said. “As years go by and money becomes available, then those sections will be completed, and the links will begin to fit together.”

For the rest of the interstate, state highway department director Scott Bennett said I-49 will provide an economic boost.

“With the designation of Interstate 49, we will be able to create jobs from the construction standpoint and be able to create even more opportunities for economic development,” Bennett said.

The section of I-540 approved for renaming includes the route from Interstate 40 near Alma to the U.S. Highway 71B Interchange just south of Bella Vista.

In the meantime, two pieces of I-49 will have a different name temporarily. Adams said the Bella Vista Bypass and the stretch of road between Barling and Greenwood will be designated at Highway 549 until they are completed to interstate standards.

“The 549, that’s just a temporary designation so that when we do connect those up, it will be a simple fix. All we have to do is drop the ‘5’,” Adams said.


  • Brian

    How about asking the tough questions like, why Arkansas can’t get the funding to complete it’s part. Both Missouri and Louisiana have all or almost off of their sections completed, so either 1. Arkansas as a state isn’t doing it’s share, or 2. We don’t have the right people in Washington to get the Federal money the other two states have had for the last 10 to 20 years.

    • M86


      I can’t figure out why US 67 that goes to the northeast from Little Rock, is to Interstate standards, but we can’t get a Bella Vista Bypass done!

      Yep, that’s where the money goes.

      Not to mention, Little Rock has a large amount of Interstate miles per capita.

  • mark

    why rename something before it will take years to complete?. finish it, then rename it & put the resources/labor to change 700 plus sign changes now toward the new construction (in their infinite wisdom)

    • YeahRight

      More efficient? I want to be self sufficient. The choice of transportation for most people is having a personal vehicle and not riding a train. Train transportation serves a purpose but that is not, and should not, be a replacement of the personal vehicle.

      I still say if we’d stop wasting billions on government handout programs to those who don’t deserve it we could easily build the bridge and finish the interstate which would help the country as a whole and our area tremendously. Wasting money on welfare, WIC and food stamps for the lazy is what’s inefficient.

  • Some One

    The questions everyone seems to miss is the one that to me makes the most sense. Why spend money we dont have on a NEW road when we cannot maintain the roads that we have? What current road will now be disregarded to allow for maintaince on the new ones being built. Take a drive on Highway 71 to the south of Fort Smith.

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