BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) - Some people living in Bentonville say they are hearing explosions. That's because the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is rock blasting in the area as part of the construction on the Bella Vista Bypass.
Adam Jenkins, project manager at Kolb Grading, said construction crews are working on a 6.36-mile section of the bypass. Jenkins, whose company is under contract with the state, said crews are constructing a two-lane roadway between U.S. 71B in Bella Vista and Arkansas 72 southeast of Hiwasse.
"This whole six\-mile section and the other two sections through Hiwasse and Gravette will eventually get two extra lanes on the north side of them for the entire stretch," he said.
Jenkins said in order to finish this section of the bypass crews need to take down part of a hill next to Interstate 49 to level the landscape, and they are doing that by blasting it.
"We are quite a ways higher at this point, and that road has to follow a gentle slope for all of the vehicles and traffic," he said. "It has to fall quite a few feet in elevation to get down to the level of Walton Boulevard."
The rock blasting is happening on the west side of McKissic Creek Road in Benton County. Crews said the blasting will continue through the end of this year.
This stretch of the bypass that crews are working on is a $52.6 million project. State officials said it is scheduled to be complete in mid-2016.
Drivers are already using a three-mile stretch of the Bella Vista Bypass in Hiwasse.
The next part of the bypass is set to be finished by the end of this year. That's a 2.3 mile stretch between Arkansas 71 north of Hiwasse and County Road 34, officials said.
When the project is finished, people will be able to drive from Bentonville into Missouri on I-49. The Bella Vista Bypass would complete I-49 from Fort Smith to Kansas City.
I-49 ultimately will run from Louisiana to Canada.