LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Transportation is progressing to the next phase of development for the construction of Interstate 49 from Highway 22 in Sebastian County to Interstate 40 in Crawford County.

According to a news release from ARDOT, the department is cooperating with the Federal Highway Administration to work on the approximately 13.6 miles of road.

The section was originally part of a larger corridor environmental study known as the “U.S. 71 Relocation,” according to the release.

The study extended from Highway 70 in DeQueen to Interstate 40 near Alma, around 125 miles.

The relocation of U.S. 71 in Arkansas is part of Congressionally-designated High Priority Corridor 1, running from Shreveport, La., to Kansas City, Mo., according to the release.

The release says an FEIS was prepared, and a Record of Decision was issued in December 1997 that approved the general alignment of a new location, four-lane highway in western Arkansas.

The next phase of project development will include completing and obtaining agency approvals for the re-evaluation of the 1997 FEIS, preparing required agency construction permits, and developing final design and construction plans for a non-tolled facility from Highway 22 to Interstate 40.

According to the release, a phased construction approach may be used where two of the four lanes of the facility may be constructed in the first phase.

Final determination of the phased construction approach will be determined during the next phase of the development.

According to the release, the department developed a more detailed preliminary roadway schematic design, and conducted public involvement meetings in 2018.

The release says outreach, including public involvement meetings and agency coordination, will be part of the ongoing activities.