U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Boozman (R-AR), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with U.S. Representatives Billy Long (MO-07) and Steve Womack (AR-03), announced Thursday, December 6, 2018 that $25 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been awarded to complete work on a critical segment of Interstate 49 that will connect Arkansas and Missouri.
The Arkansas/Missouri connector, often referred to as the Bella Vista 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. Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause major traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.
The states have worked to complete this 18.9-mile section of I-49 at the Missouri-Arkansas line for more than 25 years. 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.
“Interstate access heralds the continued economic growth of any area, which is why completing the Bella Vista bypass is vital for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Many businesses and future infrastructure projects depend on its finalization, and this funding will allow that project’s construction finally to move forward. I am grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” said Cotton.
“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.”
“Completion of the critical stretch of the I-49 Arkansas-Missouri Connector is 25 years in the making and I’m thrilled we’re one step closer to getting it done,” said Blunt. “Completing this project will increase safety, improve the quality of life, and strengthen local economies in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. Missouri’s transportation networks are our greatest competitive advantage, and I appreciate the partnership of our Arkansas colleagues in moving this project forward.”
“The completion of the I-49 corridor is long overdue,” Long said. “Today’s announcement is great news for individuals and businesses in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas who have been waiting for this for more than 25 years. I am incredibly thankful for my colleagues in both Missouri and Arkansas who have long been strong advocates of I-49's completion, and their understanding of the numerous benefits it will bring to local economies in both states.”
“Today’s funding announcement is a game changer that will do more than just upgrade the I-49 corridor – 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.