Photo by Eric Stuve, OKRroads.com
Sections of Interstate 540 and Highway 71 will soon receive a new highway designation in northwest Arkansas.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department recently received approval to rename the route from I-40 near Alma to the Highway 71B interchange just south of Bella Vista, according to AHTD Director Scott Bennett.
Beginning next week, the route will be re-designated as Interstate 49 as part of a longterm plan to incorporate the stretch of road into a highway running from Kansas City to New Orleans.
“We are pleased to have this new designation,” said Bennett in a statement released Wednesday. “This is something we have been working on for several months. In addition, we are awaiting Federal Highway Administration approval to designate future sections of Interstate 49 between Interstate 40 and the Louisiana state line.”
The Bella Vista Bypass, which is currently under construction, will have a dual designation as Highway 549 and Future Interstate 49 until it is completed to Interstate standards.
“We are excited to be officially naming this section of roadway as Interstate 49 in Arkansas,” said Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel. “This is part of our ultimate goal to upgrade the Highway 71 corridor in western Arkansas to Interstate standards. When completed, Interstate 49 in Arkansas will stretch from the Louisiana border north to the Missouri border.”
State crews are scheduled to begin replacing the nearly 700 road signs along the 65-mile stretch beginning Monday, April 21. The signs should be in place within 30 days, according to a news release.