FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department released the details of how it plans to widen the Interstate 49 and Fulbright Expressway interchange to six lanes.
The department said this project will be the most involved portion of the entire I-49 widening project from Fayetteville to Bentonville.
"It is a congestion and safety problem," Fayetteville City Engineer Chris Brown said Tuesday (Aug. 30). "The traffic backs up, slows down and you can't navigate through that interchange very well."
The project will widen 2.8 miles of I-49 to add a third lane in each direction to construct new interchange ramps.
"There will be some big changes to what you will see out there," Brown said.
And while the project is costly, coming in an nearly $100 million, Brown said it will be worth it.
"If we don’t see this project done, the traffic is just going to continue to get worse," he said.
According to Brown, the additional ramps, overpasses and lanes will alleviate congestion during rush hour.
"If you're going through the interchange, staying on I-49, you really won't have any traffic getting on or off in your way," he explained.
Brown admits the construction will be a headache, but he said drivers will be happy with the results when the project is completed in early 2019.
Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four weeks. The contract for the project was awarded to Keiwit Infrastructure South Company of Fort Worth, Texas.
AHTD is funding all but $200,000 of the interchange project. The City of Fayetteville is only responsible for funding the expansion of the Garland Avenue bridge, which will include a bicycle and walking path across the interstate.