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Long-awaited I-49 Bella Vista Bypass opens to drivers

October 1, 2021 GMT

BELLA VISTA, Ark. (AP) — The Bella Vista Bypass opened to the public Friday, marking the end to a decades-long plan to link sections of an interstate in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday. The new roadway allows travelers to bypass Bella Vista, Arkansas, and connects 265 miles (425 kilometers) of Interstate 49 between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Discussions began more than 25 years ago for the project, and construction began in February 2011. The Arkansas Department of Transportation says construction included six projects that totaled more than $220 million.

“Whenever you look at what’s happening in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, our economy is boosting. But if we do not have this kind of investment in infrastructure, then we can’t keep growing our economy,” Hutchinson said. “While this won’t guarantee we’ll continue to prosper in the future, it sure means we’re not going to stymie the growth we already have.”