A ceremony was held Wednesday in the parking lot of the Grace Church of Alma for the dedication of Interstate 49.
Thanks to the U.S. Department of transportation, Interstate 540 from Alma north to the Missouri border now has a name, and I-49 will serve to connect Arkansas with Louisiana.
“Our neighboring cities and partners here in the south end wanted to also do some sort of dedication and just draw attention,” said Chad Adams, district engineer.
The newly christened stretch of roadway may help the state’s commerce, too.
Ivy Owen of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority believes the addition will, “make us a transportation contender in the industry,” adding that it would be a critical move to the state’s benefit.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department gathered to reveal the new signs for I-49, alongside numerous Arkansas River Valley leaders. The interstate will cover 1700 miles of road between New Orleans and Canada. Its lengthiest section will stretch across 185 miles, reaching from Fort Smith to Arkansas’ Texarkana. There will also be a section eight miles long between the Missouri border and Bella Vista.
Adams noted that the ceremony was not only representative of the state’s achievement, but also a call for more funding.
The funds for the signage totaled $75,000 and came from the state’s maintenance budget, but Adams noted that additional funding would be required to complete projects like a bridge that would cross the Arkansas River.
Arkansas Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel said no further funding has been secured, and that federal assistance would be necessary if more money is needed.
Trammel said a petition is already in place to ask for federal funding, but could not say when the bridge project would be completed.
With the addition of an important piece of our state’s infrastructure, Bailey & Oliver would like to congratulate all those who took part in this effort on a job well done!