In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner spoke with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to find out if there are plans to illuminate Interstate 49 in Northwest Arkansas.
Danny Straessle, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said there are no plans to illuminate I-49 in Washington and Benton counties.
“We have more than 700 miles of interstate in Arkansas,” he said. “That would be an expensive light bill if you will to illuminate that entire stretch.”
The high cost associated with illuminating the interstate is why the decision to do so falls into the hands of the cities. While there are no plans to install lights on the interstate in Northwest Arkansas, cities still have the option to do so down the road.
“You have to get a permit from the department and it’s likely that they will have to incur all the costs of construction and everything that goes on with doing that,” Straessle said. “The key is that cities need to maintain the illumination if they choose to do so. The light poles, the bulbs, the fixtures, the wiring and especially the electric bil that incurs to operate that is all taken on by the specific city to which that part of the interstate travels through.”
Straessle said even without lights, new advances have helped make it easier for drivers to navigate the interstate at night.
“I-49 is still very much a rural highway or at least is designated as a rural highway, so yes it is a dark drive,” he said. “However, the new construction has included a new paint job for all the stripes. So, even without the illumination from over head lights, it’s still pretty easy to navigate the corridor at night thanks to the advances in the paint and the signage that we have out there.”
Katelynn reached out to city leaders in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville to find out if there are plans to illuminate I-49 in the future. They all told her that there are no plans right now to install lights along their portion of the interstate.
Is there something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.