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I-49 construction starting fall 2022 hoped to be completed by end of the decade

The project has been in the works for over 20 years.

BARLING, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) has announced that construction on the I-49 corridor between Chaffee Crossing and Alma will begin this fall. 

Funding to complete the 13.5-mile stretch of I-49 between Highway 22 in Sebastian County to I-40 in Crawford County was approved by voters in 2020 as part of Issue 1 on the ballot

"We are sincerely thankful for ARDOT's fulfillment of promises to Arkansas voters following passage of Issue 1 in November 2020," FCRA CEO Daniel Mann said. 

The new stretch of interstate is part of a long-term congressional plan to connect Shreveport, Louisiana, to Kansas City, Missouri.

Construction will begin in the fall of 2022, but no details about a completion date have been shared. 

"It will be a great pleasure to plan the groundbreaking this fall and see real work begin in the near future," Mann said. "I-49 is a major transportation corridor that will open up the Fort Smith regional market to greater domestic and international trade." 

Ardot spokesman Dave parker says just north of Highway 22, they’ll start clearing right of ways and other work this fall to make way for the ramps. He says you’ll see more substantial work happen from the end of 2024 into 2025.

“Studies will have to happen, you know environmental studies and that sort of thing. We’ll have to work with the Corp of Engineers because eventually, we are talking about a new bridge, so it’s very early but we are very excited to announce this and are looking forward to actually getting the project started,” Parker said.

Steve Core, the City of Barling City Administrator, says this is exciting to hear there is a start date and says this project will bring a lot of jobs for skilled laborers.

“It’s been a long time awaited. They planned it probably 20 years ago and it’s like everything, it takes a long time to develop. The meaning, it will mean a directed connection across the river headed into Northwest Arkansas,” he said.

Please check back for updates to this developing story. 

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