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Mith242

I-55 and I-69 Comparisons

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There's been a lot of talk about I-69 and the possible affects it will have on the economy in southeast Arkansas. Although I-69 won't be going through very much of Arkansas. But it made me start thinking about I-55. Granted I don't know or hear much about I-55. Maybe it's because I live on the other side of the state. But I seem to hear more about I-30 and it's not particuarly close to me either. But I guess I was wondering what effect I-55 has had on northeast Arkansas. Granted it doesn't go through a very large part of the state but I-69 won't either. I do think I-69 will have some positive aspects to the economy but maybe people are putting too much into I-69 to 'fix' the economy in southeast Arkansas. Northeast Arkansas has I-55 and it doesn't seem to be helping it very much from what I can tell. The few bright spots like Jonesboro and Paragould aren't on I-55 and I would doubt that I-55 has done much for those cities being that far away. Just wanted to get some input from people in that part of the state. And also some of the west Tennessee people who might also know a little about this also.

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I-55 in NE Arkansas literally goes by nothing directly except Marion, Blytheville, and West Memphis. Marion is benfiting from I-55 and I-40 now (see the Industrial Mega-Site and residential growth) and has been for some time now. Blytheville from what I hear just has alot of problems that make it unattractive, and was for a long time a one horse town with the military base, so it is probably just now being more proactive. West Memphis...well that speaks for itself.

One place not right on I-55 that is doing well due to its proximity to I-55 (from what I have read on these boards) in Osceola, which is on the Mississippi River, but not that far from I-55.

The lack of economic development in and around I-55 in Arkansas IMO mainly has to do with the lack on any substantial population centers on it, Marion is small, Osceola isn't right on it and isn't huge, Blytheville probably hasn't been trying that hard until recently, and West Memphis - well its West Memphis. The region on the whole is pretty sparsely populated, lacks existing infrastructure in most places, etc., which means there is little to draw industry to the region.

The biggest problem, which I have stated in other threads is the lack of effort by local, and in some cases the state government, to be

pro-active in establishing lures for industry, ie proper and/or adequate local institutions to train the workforce (ie tech schools and junior colleges)- with state funding to subsidize the workers educations, tax incentives, adequently designed proposal packages, adequate and secured industrial sites for future plants (with proper and adequate utility and transportation infrastructures) etc etc.

Basically towns/counties/states have to expend substantial resources, spend substantial amounts of time, and be very proactive in all regards to be attractive for industrial expansions and relocations. It takes government investment and co-operation on many levels, dedication, and a clear strategy to be successful. Its no easy task. Too many communities do too little and lack the basic infrastructure to benefit fully from an interstate, and way too many think that the interstate will be their savior without them having to do much.

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As for I-69 and what it will take for communities to see benefits from it.

The towns that could benefit along the route would be the ones with populations starting from about 10-15K. They tend to have the needed population, suitable local or regional airports - which are very key to luring industry (ie to fly in corporate types), the commercial amenities seen as needed by corporate types (they tend to like potential sites to have places to shop and dine), governments that pro-active and capable enough to do the work to lure plants/are professional, etc. Basically, if the town is little more than a cross-roads, in a poor county, with a sub-par or no airport, with lackluster government, few basic amenities, etc; then the odds are strongly against any new inteerstate being a great benefit. Those are the typle of places that people who live there will have to commute via the new interstate down the road to the bigger communities that will be more capable of luring industry.

So will I-69 be a economic boon for the entire region, yes and no. Will it give opportunities to the region to draw new industrial plants, commercial activity, etc? Yes, but mainly only in the larger more capable communities, and that is only if they are being proactive now in setting up the groundwork in infrastructure and long-term planning where they can be competative in what they have to offer any potential industry. Thus, no its not a given.

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That was kind of long and rambling, hopefully it all comes together into a understandable concept.

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As long as I can remember, there has been a 4 lane highway connecting Jonesboro to I-55 and Memphis, though that 4 lane is just now being turned into an interstate spur. I had a friend in Memphis who took the 1 hr. commute to ASU for nursing. So, I think the presence of I-55 has had a positive effect on Jonesboro.

As far as West Memphis goes, if I-55 had gone down the eastbank of the Mississippi in West Tennessee, I think it goes without saying that West Memphis would no longer be the "Truck Stop Center of the Nation". lol

And to the extent that Marion has benefitted, West Memphis benefits from I-55 anyway. The two cities abut each other.

West Memphis gets a bad rap, and I know I've contributed to it. But the fact is that its population is stable or growing slightly, and has been for decades. It's just not an attractive place--at least when viewed from the interstate. For all I know, economically in terms of unemployment and so forth, it may be doing fine.

I think that whole area of East Arkansas benefits from I-40 and I-55. I-55 is a major link to the distribution centers in Memphis, and manufacturing centers further north. I think it helps that region's hunt for the automotive industry.

In the I-55 area, you've got water transportation, surface transportation, air transportation (Memphis is the largest air cargo hub), and rail transportation (Memphis is the 3rd largest rail hub)

To the point--I-69: I'm sure it will have some positive effects. I imagine it will take some time though. Nowadays, I imagine there's very little incentive to locate a plant or distribution facility in that region. With I-69, the area can tout itself as 1 day from Mexico, 1 day from Canada, etc.

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Yes I don't think many would argue about I-40 not having any impact. But I had wondered about I-55. I guess it shows I-69 could have some impact if measures are taken. But at the same time people shouldn't get the idea that I-69 will the project that would save southeast Arkansas either.

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Where exactly is I69 going to cross the Mississippi. I understand that Mississippi used it's political power to keep it on the Eastern side of the river for as far as possible. If it crosses at Helena, I think that it could have a strong impact. I am uses the aurguement of an area with a large enough population base. Further south and I'm not certain that it will have that much. If it goes through El Dorado, then it would be able to help most of the southern half of the state.

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Where exactly is I69 going to cross the Mississippi. I understand that Mississippi used it's political power to keep it on the Eastern side of the river for as far as possible. If it crosses at Helena, I think that it could have a strong impact. I am uses the aurguement of an area with a large enough population base. Further south and I'm not certain that it will have that much. If it goes through El Dorado, then it would be able to help most of the southern half of the state.

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There's already a bridge crossing in Helena. The current plan calls for it to cross from Rosedale, MS to McGehee, AR. Here's a look at the Mississippi River Crossing. It will go through El Dorado, which will be the last important Arkansas city that it passes before heading to Shreveport.

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There's already a bridge crossing in Helena. The current plan calls for it to cross from Rosedale, MS to McGehee, AR. Here's a look at the Mississippi River Crossing. It will go through El Dorado, which will be the last important Arkansas city that it passes before heading to Shreveport.

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Thanks for the information and the link. I do know that there is a bridge at Helena. I'm going with that Arkansas is going to put an extension of I530 to Little Rock from I69. That I didn't know. Very Interesting.

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Thanks for the information and the link. I do know that there is a bridge at Helena. I'm going with that Arkansas is going to put an extension of I530 to Little Rock from I69. That I didn't know. Very Interesting.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah I'm pretty sure it's a done deal on extending I-530 past Pine Bluff to connect to I-69.

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Here is something that I remember from the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio. The theme of the Arkansas Pavilion was that 'All Roads lead to Little Rock". They had a map of the state with small matchbox sized cars continuously driving down the Interstate Roads of Arkansas to and from Little Rock.

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At one point they were trying to have 4 lane highways between all cities over 10,000. But eventually the cost cut down that idea.

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^Tennessee is close to having a similar plan completed. Bascially my understanding is that all the county seats were supposed to have access to an interstate via 4 lane highways, but as far as 10K cities goes I can't think of one without 4-lane access. Lake County is one of the few counties I can think of in West Tennessee that may not have a 4-lane highway yet, but one is going to be built there soon to service the Cates Landing Industrial Park thats going to be built in the coming years.

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^Tennessee is close to having a similar plan completed. Bascially my understanding is that all the county seats were supposed to have access to an interstate via 4 lane highways, but as far as 10K cities goes I can't think of one without 4-lane access. Lake County is one of the few counties I can think of in West Tennessee that may not have a 4-lane highway yet, but one is going to be built there soon to service the Cates Landing Industrial Park thats going to be built in the coming years.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah, I know Tennessee has a pretty good road system, and I think it's admirable that they've connected all the county seats with 4 laners.

Hmm, well, I guess so. Let's just say that the TN highway lobby and asphalt companies have a lot of pull! :lol:

Next month, I've got to drive down to Cave City AR for a family reunion. Looks like 2 laners all the way from KC Missouri!

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