BELLA VISTA (KFSM) — The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a $25 million grant to complete the Bella Vista Bypass, according to Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman.
The 18.9-mile section of Interstate 49 between Bentonville and Pineville, Mo., is the only portion of the more than 290-mile route between Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Smith that is not interstate quality.
The grant will also fund construction of a 4.81-mile segment of I-49 from Bella Vista into Missouri.
Funding for the project is being awarded from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects, according to the senators, who made the announcement Thursday (Dec. 6) alongside Missouri’s congressional delegation.
Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause significant traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.
The states have worked to complete this connector for more than 25 years.
Work on the interchange, the remaining segment of the bypass in Arkansas and the 4.8-mile portion in Missouri should be completed in early 2022, according to Talk Business and Politics.
Elaine Chao, secretary of the Department of Transportation, called Cotton earlier Thursday after Cotton had urged the DOT and White House to support the grant. He had also encouraged NWA council to apply for the award, to begin with.
Both Cotton and Boozman said completing the project will be an economic boon for Northwest Arkansas.
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, concurred, calling the announcement a “game changer.”
“This investment, which I have tirelessly advocated for, will increase travel safety, decrease congestion, create jobs, and enhance the economic vitality of our region,” Womack said.