Arkansas and Missouri senators and congressmen have announced a massive step toward completing a critical segment of Interstate 49 that will connect Arkansas to Missouri.
Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (AR-03) and U.S. Rep. Billy Long (MO-07) made a joint announcement that $25 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds has been awarded to complete the Arkansas/Missouri connector, often referred to as the Bella Vista Bypass.
“[The bypass] is the only portion of the more than 290-mile route between Kansas City, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas that is not interstate quality,” the announcement states. “Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause major traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.”
The neighboring states have worked for over 25 years to complete the 18.9 mile section of I-49 at the Missouri-Arkansas line.
Project funds are being awarded from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects.
“This is exciting news for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Securing these funds for this shovel-ready project has taken years of vigorous and persistent advocating from my team. Our hard work has finally resulted in funding for a project that will yield dividends when it comes to economic growth and quality of life in the region,” Boozman said. “I appreciate Secretary Chao’s leadership in recognizing the importance of a project that I have championed throughout my time in Congress.”
Womack said the funding is a game changer that will go beyond upgrading I-49.
“It will transform and modernize our local transportation system to support Arkansas families and the growth of our state. This investment, which I have tirelessly advocated for, will increase travel safety, decrease congestion, create jobs, and enhance the economic vitality of our region. I am grateful to Secretary Chao for listening to the concerns I brought to USDOT, and for moving this important and long overdue project forward,” said Womack.