DOT, Arkansas agreement clears way for Bella Vista bypass

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The U.S. Department of Transportation signed an agreement with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department for $10 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to construct portions of a new four-lane interstate bypass and access road on Highway 71 from Bella Vista, Ark., to Pineville, Mo.

“The Recovery Act is helping make this crucial infrastructure project a reality and bringing jobs to Northwest Arkansas,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says. “The bypass will not only move freight, it will also create a safer route for all drivers.”

The grant is part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program included in the Recovery Act to promote innovative multimodal and multijurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

The project involves construction of a critical 2.5-mile two-lane segment between the Highway 72 South and Highway 72 North interchanges, as well as an access road between Highway 279 and Highway 72 South near the City of Bella Vista. When the 19-mile bypass is fully constructed, it will complete a link in Interstate 49, connecting the Port of New Orleans with a number of interstates and improving the movement of goods to the Great Lakes and Canada. The new bypass also will separate through and primarily commercial traffic from local traffic, improving the safety of the existing route through downtown.

“This new road will improve safety for drivers who live in the area and will allow freight traffic to move more smoothly,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez says. “It’s a great example of what the TIGER program was designed to do – it will strengthen the local economy while addressing community infrastructure needs.”