Bella Vista Bypass Will Stop South of Missouri State Line

BELLA VISTA, AR -- The future of part of the Bella Vista Bypass is now looking questionable, after voters in another state did not approve funding for the completion of the project.

Voters in Missouri had to decide if they wanted to pay for five miles of the bypass into their state costing them close to $40 million. The 19-mile project would be built from Bentonville in to Pineville, Missouri, which would become a section of Interstate 49.

Arkansas voters approved the half cent sales tax to pay for its part of the two lane $150 million road project. Funding for Missouri's stretch of the construction would have come from a transportation tax. According to the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, Constitutional Amendment 7 would have imposed a three-quarters cent increase on state sales and use tax to fund roads and other transportation projects.The tax was estimated to bring in at least $540 million annually over 10 years and would cover more than 200 projects.

With 100% of the vote reporting to the Missouri Secretary of State's office, Amendment 7 lost, with 590,963 NO votes and 407,532 YES votes. That is 59% to 41%.

Since Missouri voters rejected the highway tax, the Bella Vista Bypass will stop about two miles south of the Arkansas-Missouri border on County Road 34.

Backers of the sales tax for transportation are disappointed not only that their proposal has lost; they're disappointed by how badly it has lost. Senator Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City, Missouri, who has led legislative efforts to build consensus on a sales tax increase, says some polling had indicated the tax increase had a chance to make it. Opponents say this tax would hit the poor more than the wealthy and they would ask the legislature for a different way to make these improvements.

"We would rather see a smaller, something smaller in scope, that would not have that kind of impact on those who are already finding it difficult to make ends meet," says Ann Elwell of the League of Women Voters.

Kehoe thinks it will be some time before another transportation funding proposal is put on the ballot. Interstate 49 ultimately would have connected Louisiana all the way to Canada.

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