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I-49 One Step Closer to Being Realized

454 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Well, well, western Arkansas' dream highway is closer to getting built:

img_i49map.gif

Missouri recently approved a huge highway funding initiative. They outline 35 most need highway developments, the four lane highway to Bella Vista was ranked 5th. So it's definitely going to happen. Full article available at: http://www.nwanews.com/story.php?paper=adg...&storyid=121529

Being a rural Arkansan will just keep getting better, with I-69 and I-49 in the works. If you just look at a map, you can see that there are relatively very few interstates crossing it: I-40 and I-30 (plus their minor extensions). Luckily, the Delta will get its much needed highway (which will probably become the most traveled route for transporters between Canada and Mexico, as I-40 is now). The Ouachita mountains of Arkansas too, if funding is allocated (which I think is a matter of time) will get a highway going through it. It should be very scenic indeed.

What is kind of odd, is that in some places, Oklahoma will be less than 20 miles to the West (or maybe even 10 or 15), so they will be pretty much getting jipped. A major highway that brings money into the economy will be barely across the border, benefitting predominantly the Arkansas economy. You could have also said the same about I-55 in Mississippi.

Edited by johnnydr87

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Posted (edited)

Link to Mena, Arkansas, on google maps:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=mena,+AR&ll=...56619&t=k&hl=en

You can switch between "Maps" and "Satellite" by clicking the buttons on the top right of the image. You can see that there are clear valleys, and indeed, wide plains, along the route of I-49. It will probably be the most scenic major interstate in Arkansas, along with I-40 from Russelville to Alma and I-540 Boston Mountains.

The most scenic part will be around Mena, but other parts of the highway will bypass very scenic mountain parts. Hopefully a scenic overlook will be granted along the route.

Edited by johnnydr87

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Posted

Yeah I am glad Missouri is finally getting on the ball and doing something. What's bad is that they've just spent a lot of money widening and working on Hwy 71. Which is basically what I-540 was built to 'replace' as the major thouroughfare in this region. As far as Oklahoma is concerned I guess Arkansas did show some initiative or just got lucky getting I-49 going through western Arkansas. The Ouachitas are different than the Ozarks and I think will provide a different aspect as far as the construction goes. There's not much to work with because everything runs east-west. But yes you would think it would be rather scenic.

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Posted (edited)

That's true to an extent. I've never been on hwy 71, but there seems to be a few rifts here and there in the mountains where I-71 travels. But I'd think the Ozarks are more difficult to cut through, since it's not nearly as organized as the Ouachitas (as evident from satellite photos). Whereas in the Ouachitas, there are clear valleys along the routh (with the occasional spine of the mountain range popping up).

Edited by johnnydr87

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Posted

Overall the Boston Mtn area of the Ozarks is the most rugged feature in Arkansas. But not everything is necessarily all east-west as the Ouachitas are. I imagine the Ouachitas will provide their own unique problems. They might have to sidestep a bit to the east or west in some areas to try to avoid some of the bigger mountains of the Ouachitas I'd think. Either that or they'd just have to blast everything down. I can't remember at the moment, any idea just where I-49 will end at to the south?

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Overall the Boston Mtn area of the Ozarks is the most rugged feature in Arkansas.  But not everything is necessarily all east-west as the Ouachitas are.  I imagine the Ouachitas will provide their own unique problems.  They might have to sidestep a bit to the east or west in some areas to try to avoid some of the bigger mountains of the Ouachitas I'd think.  Either that or they'd just have to blast everything down.  I can't remember at the moment, any idea just where I-49 will end at to the south?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Near Fouke on the LA border. Or Texarkana on the first border.

That would be really awsome if they put a tunnel through the Ouachitas, but I'm assuming they'll just sidestep a bit. The elevation depression from the top to bottom in Ouachitas will be greater than the Boston Mountains...making for more scenic vistas.

The mountain route of I-71 sidesteps mountains, but I'm wondering if that will be too curvy going through the valley for a major interstate...so maybe they'll have to build a tunnel.

Check out the google map if you haven't. The satellite imagery of the mountains is interesting.

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Posted

Although it would be interesting to have another tunnel, I wouldn't suggest doing it unless absolutely necessary. When they built I-540 a lot of it's funds went into building the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. Tunnels will suck up a lot of money. Unless the federal goverment is willing to throw money at the project I don't think it should be done. If you put too high a price tag on the project it will be harder to get it done. And as far as the southern end of I-49 I thought I had read something about it extending further south into Lousiana or Texas. Not going all the way to the border of Mexico or anything that extensive but not simply just starting near the Arkansas border.

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Posted

Although it would be interesting to have another tunnel, I wouldn't suggest doing it unless absolutely necessary.  When they built I-540 a lot of it's funds went into building the Bobby Hopper Tunnel.  Tunnels will suck up a lot of money.  Unless the federal goverment is willing to throw money at the project I don't think it should be done.  If you put too high a price tag on the project it will be harder to get it done.  And as far as the southern end of I-49 I thought I had read something about it extending further south into Lousiana or Texas.  Not going all the way to the border of Mexico or anything that extensive but not simply just starting near the Arkansas border.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's true.

As far as I-49, I wasn't sure what you meant. Well, I believe it will end up in New Orleans, heading through Shreveport and Alexandria, LA on the way.

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Posted

That's true.

As far as I-49, I wasn't sure what you meant.  Well, I believe it will end up in New Orleans, heading through Shreveport and Alexandria, LA on the way.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah I'm trying not to mix up some of the details of I-69 and I-49, especially on their southern ends. Was I-69 the one that was supposed to extend all the way to the Mexican border?

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Posted

With Missouri finally picking up it's feet I hope the I-540 along the western edge of Bella Vista can now get started. I-540 actually ends right before it gets to Bella Vista and doesn't actually extend all the way to the Missouri border. It may be a toll road though. A study had said that it was the best candidate for a toll road in Arkansas. It will be different from what most Arkansans are used to, but there are plenty not too far across the Oklahoma border. With Arkansas being in it's current economic shape it might be the only way for northwest Arkansas to get some of the roads it needs to try to keep up with all the growth.

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Posted

Well there's another twist to this story apparently. For quite a while Arkansas had set aside money for this project and waited for Missouri to do something also. Missouri never did and looked to have relegated the project for the distant future. Then suddenly Missouri changed it's mind and put the project near the very top. Maybe they finally realized with everything going on in northwest Arkansas maybe they could try to help some of that extend into southwest Missouri. Anyway, Arkansas gave up on on Missouri and reallocated the money it had set up for the bypass around Bella Vista. So now Arkansas doesn't have any money for the project at the moment. Missouri's part of the bypass will be 6 miles at a cost of around $66 Mil. Arkansas's part will be about 13.6 miles at a cost of $160 Mil. Arkansas can get $9 Mil now in federal funds for the project and believes it can get $16 Mil more more from the government pitching the I-49 idea. Which of course leaves it still rather short. Looks like Arkansas would probably have to resort to the tollroad idea to get our section done anytime soon. I guess it's not great the way it ended up going but at least it does look like it will probably happen.

I also noticed that apparently the I-49 isn't on as big of a scope that I originally thought. I believe years ago I had heard plans on having it extend further south closer to the Mexican border and I had also thought it would also get closer to the Canadian border. Maybe that was before I-69 was finalized. Looks like for now the I-49 project mainly consists of just south of the Louisiana border to Kansas City. Maybe they can add on more in the future. If they can eventually get all of this done in the first place.

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Posted

That's a shame. I don't think a toll road would be such a bad idea...

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Posted

That's a shame.  I don't think a toll road would be such a bad idea...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It's not really, although I think there are a lot of people in Arkansas who don't like the idea of them. I think they are a little more accepted in northwest Arkansas because we're closer to Oklahoma where they have quite a few of them. This will probably will a taste of what's in store for the future. I have my doubts that we'll be able to get enough funding to provide all of our transportation needs. Especially if the growth doesn't slow down up here.

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Posted

That's true.

As far as I-49, I wasn't sure what you meant.  Well, I believe it will end up in New Orleans, heading through Shreveport and Alexandria, LA on the way.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I-49 is finished in Louisiana with the exception of Shreveport to Texarkana.

South of Shreveport, I-49 goes through Alexandria to Lafayette where it ends. It does not connect to New Orleans. To get to New Orleans from I-49, you would take Hwy 169 from Opelousas to Baton Rouge and then to I-10.

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Posted

I-49 is finished in Louisiana with the exception of Shreveport to Texarkana.

South of Shreveport, I-49 goes through Alexandria to Lafayette where it ends.  It does not connect to New Orleans.  To get to New Orleans from I-49, you would take Hwy 169 from Opelousas to Baton Rouge and then to I-10.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well I guess I-49 does go further south than what I thought. Do you know if there are plans to eventually connect it to New Orleans? I also know Missouri have slowly been working on having an interstate type road from Kansas City to I-44, although I doubt they had any of this I-49 in mind. Of course it will be a while into the future before everything in Arkansas gets done. But I wonder if they might ever take I-49 further north than Kansas City.

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Well I guess I-49 does go further south than what I thought.  Do you know if there are plans to eventually connect it to New Orleans?  I also know Missouri have slowly been working on having an interstate type road from Kansas City to I-44, although I doubt they had any of this I-49 in mind.  Of course it will be a while into the future before everything in Arkansas gets done.  But I wonder if they might ever take I-49 further north than Kansas City.

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I-49 in Louisiana has been finished for years and, no, there are no plans to connect it to New Orleans nor would there be any reason to. It ends in Lafayette which is already connected to New Orleans by I-10. Anyone traveling south on 49 and wanting to go to New Orleans from Shreveport would get off on Hwy 169 which is a freeway from Opelousas to Baton Rouge which connects to I-10.

There's no reason to take I-49 north of Kansas City. Where would it go? There's already I-29 which goes through Omaha, Fargo, and up to Canada, and I-35 which goes to Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Duluth.

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I-49 in Louisiana has been finished for years and, no, there are no plans to connect it to New Orleans nor would there be any reason to.  It ends in Lafayette which is already connected to New Orleans by I-10.  Anyone traveling south on 49 and wanting to go to New Orleans from Shreveport would get off on Hwy 169 which is a freeway from Opelousas to Baton Rouge which connects to I-10.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, there are plans to extend I-49 from Lafayette to New Orleans. The proposed route, which is being called I-49 South, would run 150 miles. According to i69south.com, it is the highest priority highway project in Louisiana. See a picture of the route here.

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According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, there are plans to extend I-49 from Lafayette to New Orleans. The proposed route, which is being called I-49 South, would run 150 miles. According to i69south.com, it is the highest priority highway project in Louisiana. See a picture of the route here.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

They may re-sign it to I-49, but that road has existed for years as a freeway--Hwy 90--through Houma, Morgan City, and New Iberia. In New Orleans, it's called the WestBank Expressway. And it certainly won't be used as a route connecting New Orleans to Arkansas, unless you want to go 100 miles out of your way.

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Posted (edited)

They may re-sign it to I-49, but that road has existed for years as a freeway--Hwy 90--through Houma, Morgan City, and New Iberia.
Edited by Rural King

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US 90 is a great highway, but some construction would have to be done since not all of it is closed access. US 90 is the best way to see the Gulf Coast and Louisiana (Cajun Country) IMO.

I was going to post of picture of mine of US 90 in Louisiana but I get an error message saying I can't use my image extension.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Maybe it has to be in a gif or jpg format? Okay I have finally dug out my atlas and now see Hwy 90. Yeah it looks like you'd be better off just taking I-10 towards New Orleans. Unless they were going to do something superficial like rename that section to I-10/I-49 there's not really much need it looks like to change Hwy 90 to I-49 because you could simply take I-10 and have a much more direct route to New Orleans. I obviously didn't know my Louisiana roads very well. I did not know there was a I-49 from Shreveport to Lafayette. Is I-10 a major interstate like I-40 just out of curiousity?

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Okay looks like you got the pic fixed before I finished my post. I think I see what kind of divided highway it is now. I've seen a number of these divided highways in Oklahoma but I don't think Arkansas has many. I think they are good cheaper alternatives to interstate type roads. Arkansas has used it some in Hwy 412 in northwest Arkansas, but outside of there I haven't recalled seeing any other area in Arkansas with a divided open access highway.

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Yep I-10 is the southernmost east-west interstate. It stretches from California Highway 1 in Santa Monica to I-95 in Jacksonville. It goes through cities like Pheonix, Houston, New Orleans, Gulfport/Biloxi, Mobile, Jacksonville, and several others.

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Posted (edited)

Okay looks like you got the pic fixed before I finished my post.
Edited by Rural King

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Posted

Really? Tennessee has these type of roads all over. West Tennessee for example has US 51 (a lot of which is to become the new I-69), US 412, US 45/US 45E/US45W, TN 22.....which are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Tennessee is all about some four-lane divided highways. Not to mention its getting pretty hard to find dirt or gravel roads in West Tennessee anymore, which means the counties like to pave alot too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Arkansas does have four lanes highways of course but rarely seem to use the divided type. Not sure why that is to be honest.

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Really? Tennessee has these type of roads all over. West Tennessee for example has US 51 (a lot of which is to become the new I-69), US 412, US 45/US 45E/US45W, TN 22.....which are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Tennessee is all about some four-lane divided highways. Not to mention its getting pretty hard to find dirt or gravel roads in West Tennessee anymore, which means the counties like to pave alot too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That was my reaction... I'm pretty sure we have them all over Arkansas.....unless I'm totally confused on the topic...which may be the case..

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