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Author Topic: I-49 in Arkansas  (Read 961320 times)

Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3425 on: November 22, 2021, 07:55:26 AM »

The Mena-Waldron segment could end up being one of the last segments of I-49 being built. However, the mountain pass between Y City and Acorn isn't nearly as challenging as the mountain passes I-70 cuts through in Colorado and Utah.

It will be interesting to see the order AR DOT chooses to build out the segments of I-49 between Fort Smith and Texarkana after they finish the Alma-Barling segment. IMHO, I think they should tackle bypasses around Mansfield, Waldron, Mena, DeQueen and Ashdown first since those would be the most inflation-prone segments over the long term. Completion of the town bypasses would make the corridor more free-flowing that must faster. Things would get finished even faster if they had multiple construction crews working on separate segments simultaneously. Upgrades between towns would be easier to build (except for the mountain bypasses). As I said earlier, they could choose the built-out the corridor in a linear fashion from North to South, bit by bit. Kind of like how I-69 has proceeded in Southern Indiana (but going South to North in that case). However that process could end up going slower.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3426 on: November 22, 2021, 09:51:10 AM »

The hardest part in the whole I-49 project is the Alma to Barling segment. Once they can get that finished the segments proceeding farther South will be easier to build. No long bridges over rivers.

The new terrain segments will take a good bit of grading work, but there are few properties in the way to clear either. I think I said it earlier: they can "flesh-out" much of the corridor, reserving needed ROW, by building a Super 2 just like they did with AR-530 farther East. The second set of lanes and limited access exits can be added as funding becomes available. I think AR DOT may have to use this approach with the bypasses around towns along the route.

You have got to be kidding! The mountains are the WORST part.

Not on a cost per mile basis.

I will give you that. On the other hand, the cost of the segment from Mena to Waldron will have cost over-runs, delays, and problems.
It has been a while since there has been significant freeway built in the mountains. There is no telling what the cost will be.  While the per-mile cost may (perhaps even probably) be less than the river crossing , the per traffic mile and segment cost will almost surely be higher.

It hasn't been that long since I-49 was built through the Boston Mtns., so there's likely still some old timers with institutional knowledge, not to mention all of Arkansas northwest of US-67 is mountains other than the river valleys.  Plus, they've surely learned a lesson about mountain cuts from the about to be completed SPUI offramp on I-49 South to US-71 in Bentonville.  The methodology in the Ouachitas will assuredly be cuts on the smaller ridges like these:

US-71 south of Greenwood, AR
AR-45 north of Hackett

The fill created by the cuts fills the valleys to shorten the bridging requirements between ridges.  Through the Arkansas River Valley, however, fill will need to be hauled in, which isn't exactly cheap.

The only really tricky stretch really is where US-71 is concurrent with US-270 through the Foran Gap between Y-City and Acorn.  And it's pretty well been decided that I-49 will subsume US-71 and US-270 through the Foran Gap due to the tight fit and little need for access as the population is very low through there, so half the carriageway is already there other than maybe some corner radii adjustments.  It'll most likely be a concrete median with the additional lanes just on the other side, like from the Winslow exit on I-49 to the Hopper Tunnel.
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bugo

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3427 on: November 23, 2021, 08:51:55 AM »

There is some movement afoot to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. That would make it a lot easier for dispensaries and grow house businesses to do their banking. Oklahoma is kind of an odd state with its medical marijuana setup. It's not hard for anyone to get a medical marijuana card, which makes the "medical" part a mere formality. It's practically recreational, but there are limits where you can use the drug. You can't just blaze-up while walking down the sidewalk. It's also not hard to open a dispensary or grow house. The licensing costs are minimal compared to other states and there appears to be no limit on how many dispensaries or grow houses can operate in a county. I've lost track of how many signs, window wraps and other graphics I've designed for such places. I think it has done a pretty good job of killing the illegal pot business in the state. Still, we have plenty of pushers selling coke, meth and fake pills laced with fentanyl. Lots of people are dying of it too, more than 100,000 Americans between April 2020 and April 2021.

This is not accurate. State law says that it is legal for a licensed patient to smoke cannabis anywhere it is legal to smoke tobacco cigarettes. I figure this will eventually be changed, but for now, you can smoke cannabis anywhere you can smoke tobacco. And other cannabis products like edibles can be used anywhere.
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bugo

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3428 on: November 23, 2021, 09:08:34 AM »

I-49 is planned to be built on top of current US 71-270 through Foran Gap, split off somewhere north of the CR 70 intersection, then head south to bypass Mena to the east and south. It will cross CR 70 about a half mile east of the current US 71-270/CR 70 intersection. I suspect the exit will be built at CR 70. It would be cheaper than building a trumpet. If this happens, US 71-270 will likely hop off of I-49 at CR 70, and follow what is now CR 70 from I-49 to current US 71-270. Current US 71-270 from CR 70 north to the point where I-49 leaves the US 71-270 alignment will be a dead end road. Current CR 70 will have to be upgraded to state highway standards, and the 71/270/70 intersection will be reconfigured so 71/270 will seamlessly transition to the CR 70 alignment. That is what would make the most sense, anyway. Some sort of grade separation will have to be built where I-49 will cross the Ouachita Trail. Here's a satellite view of the area.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.6619976,-94.1576687,3519m/data=!3m1!1e3
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3429 on: November 23, 2021, 04:27:22 PM »

I-49 is planned to be built on top of current US 71-270 through Foran Gap, split off somewhere north of the CR 70 intersection, then head south to bypass Mena to the east and south. It will cross CR 70 about a half mile east of the current US 71-270/CR 70 intersection. I suspect the exit will be built at CR 70. It would be cheaper than building a trumpet. If this happens, US 71-270 will likely hop off of I-49 at CR 70, and follow what is now CR 70 from I-49 to current US 71-270. Current US 71-270 from CR 70 north to the point where I-49 leaves the US 71-270 alignment will be a dead end road. Current CR 70 will have to be upgraded to state highway standards, and the 71/270/70 intersection will be reconfigured so 71/270 will seamlessly transition to the CR 70 alignment. That is what would make the most sense, anyway. Some sort of grade separation will have to be built where I-49 will cross the Ouachita Trail. Here's a satellite view of the area.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.6619976,-94.1576687,3519m/data=!3m1!1e3

In Colorado, they have built some fairly low cost pedestrian bridges for those trails in mountainous trails.
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edwaleni

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3430 on: November 24, 2021, 12:23:03 PM »

I-49 is planned to be built on top of current US 71-270 through Foran Gap, split off somewhere north of the CR 70 intersection, then head south to bypass Mena to the east and south. It will cross CR 70 about a half mile east of the current US 71-270/CR 70 intersection. I suspect the exit will be built at CR 70. It would be cheaper than building a trumpet. If this happens, US 71-270 will likely hop off of I-49 at CR 70, and follow what is now CR 70 from I-49 to current US 71-270. Current US 71-270 from CR 70 north to the point where I-49 leaves the US 71-270 alignment will be a dead end road. Current CR 70 will have to be upgraded to state highway standards, and the 71/270/70 intersection will be reconfigured so 71/270 will seamlessly transition to the CR 70 alignment. That is what would make the most sense, anyway. Some sort of grade separation will have to be built where I-49 will cross the Ouachita Trail. Here's a satellite view of the area.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.6619976,-94.1576687,3519m/data=!3m1!1e3

This is why I was asking about the viability of tunnels in Arkansas generally.  I saw the Foran Gap as a wasteful use of forest land and private property especially between Acorn and Gap Creek to take for a 4 lane interstate.

A tunnel that enters north of Acorn and comes out at Cedar Creek ravine seems to be (IMHO) a more effective route, especially for trucks to avoid a large grade.
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3431 on: November 25, 2021, 02:35:38 PM »

The I-49 route between Mansfield and Mena would be a lot better if it was possible to fund and build 3 or more tunnels. Mansfield down to Waldron should be a more direct route, but a tunnel would be required. Waldron to Y City has a good bend to that route segment. Y City down to Acorn is a big "S" shape that could be much more straight and level via one or even two different tunnels. Obviously we're talking billions of dollars to build such a thing.
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US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3432 on: November 25, 2021, 05:47:51 PM »

The I-49 route between Mansfield and Mena would be a lot better if it was possible to fund and build 3 or more tunnels. Mansfield down to Waldron should be a more direct route, but a tunnel would be required. Waldron to Y City has a good bend to that route segment. Y City down to Acorn is a big "S" shape that could be much more straight and level via one or even two different tunnels. Obviously we're talking billions of dollars to build such a thing.

Unless things have changed, I was under the impression that Hopper tunnel was "one and done." I suppose that could change deepening on who is on the highway commission.
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Tomahawkin

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3433 on: November 25, 2021, 05:53:17 PM »

I seriously don't think tunnels will be built because it's more expensive and takes more time to plan and build. I'm expecting to see a lot of viaducts through the Ouachita mountain area and at grade roads in SW Arkansas north of the Texarkana area. Also I expect interchanges with state and county roads to be few and far between???
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edwaleni

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3434 on: November 25, 2021, 10:39:33 PM »

The I-49 route between Mansfield and Mena would be a lot better if it was possible to fund and build 3 or more tunnels. Mansfield down to Waldron should be a more direct route, but a tunnel would be required. Waldron to Y City has a good bend to that route segment. Y City down to Acorn is a big "S" shape that could be much more straight and level via one or even two different tunnels. Obviously we're talking billions of dollars to build such a thing.

Unless things have changed, I was under the impression that Hopper tunnel was "one and done." I suppose that could change deepening on who is on the highway commission.

The Hopper Tunnel cost $952k per meter of 4 lane twin bore tunnel in 1992 dollars.

So accounting for inflation, all things being the same, that would come out to about $1.88 million per meter of 4 lane twin bore tunnel.

If you build a new 900 meter 4 lane twin bore tunnel north of Acorn to avoid the Foran Gap, that would ring up a bill of about $1.7B to build it.

However, one thing about the Hopper that was unique (and expensive). They used the older blast and scrap method of creating the bores. They did not use a boring machine.

On top of that the regolith they pulled out had no re-purpose at the time, so it was simply dumped aside.

So if they could use traditional boring, which is faster and cheaper, and find reuse for the regolith, you could probably reduce the costs somewhat.

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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3435 on: November 26, 2021, 12:57:34 AM »

Oh I'm sure they would find any excuse to run up the cost of any tunnel project by multiple billions of dollars, even if they can use a cost effective method to get the job done. That's just how Americans do infrastructure -blow up the cost and take decades to finish it. Meanwhile other rival nations (China and Japan in particular) build really serious tunnels like it's not all that big a deal. Just building one in the US is damned near impossible. The situation is pretty pathetic.

In the end, I-49 between Mansfield and Mena is not going to be any fun for truckers. The route is really going to suck in any kind of bad weather. Two or three tunnels to make the route more level and direct would make I-49 safer, faster and more efficient. But that just can't happen here in America. We price ourselves out of stuff like that.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3436 on: November 26, 2021, 12:14:08 PM »

Oh I'm sure they would find any excuse to run up the cost of any tunnel project by multiple billions of dollars, even if they can use a cost effective method to get the job done. That's just how Americans do infrastructure -blow up the cost and take decades to finish it. Meanwhile other rival nations (China and Japan in particular) build really serious tunnels like it's not all that big a deal. Just building one in the US is damned near impossible. The situation is pretty pathetic.

In the end, I-49 between Mansfield and Mena is not going to be any fun for truckers. The route is really going to suck in any kind of bad weather. Two or three tunnels to make the route more level and direct would make I-49 safer, faster and more efficient. But that just can't happen here in America. We price ourselves out of stuff like that.

During winter events, I-49 north of I-40 until Fayetteville gets sketchy even with the tunnel and a decent amount of road maintenance.  Those long, tall bridges on inclines inevitably wind up getting periodic closures due to accidents.  Thankfully, there's not normally more than 2-3 of those type of events each winter, so the road closures are typically short lived and don't amount to more than a total of a little more than a day for the entire year.  There's generally less wintry precipitation south of the Arkansas River, so that should be lessened south of Ft. Smith, but there'd still be a need for a couple of road treatment depots between Mansfield and Mena like there are off the Mountainburg and Winslow exits on the stretch south of Fayetteville.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3437 on: November 26, 2021, 01:08:57 PM »

The I-49 route between Mansfield and Mena would be a lot better if it was possible to fund and build 3 or more tunnels. Mansfield down to Waldron should be a more direct route, but a tunnel would be required. Waldron to Y City has a good bend to that route segment. Y City down to Acorn is a big "S" shape that could be much more straight and level via one or even two different tunnels. Obviously we're talking billions of dollars to build such a thing.

My Grandpa had a ranch between Mansfield and Hartford near the base of that first mountain, Poteau Mtn., and my Dad had another for a time between Hon and Cauthron, both of them with northern property lines on old railroad ROWs on both sides of the mountain.  I rode 4-wheelers all over the southern face of that mountain and used to go deer hunting in Natl. Forest land on the north face.  It's pretty immense as mountains in Arkansas go (like it's well over 1400 ft. tall from the base of the surrounding areas, and gets up to 2660ft. where the radio towers are) and would take a tunnel longer than 1 mile long to bore through.  It would save a chunk of mileage, but that's a lot of sandstone and shale to go through.  Going through the mountain south of Y-City to straighten the S out would be a tunnel probably 1.5 miles long as the tunnel likely wouldn't be straight north and south with a reservoir and another ridge just to the other side of the mountain.  It'd be great if they could find a way as it would save a significant amount of altitude change as well as overall mileage, but it would take some "manna from heaven" in the form of federal grants for Arkansas to change the routing at this point.
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3438 on: November 26, 2021, 08:39:55 PM »

The Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 is almost 1.7 miles long. I get the feeling if that tunnel didn't already exist and was going to be proposed today it might not ever get built. Drivers on I-70 going from Denver to Utah would be stuck taking US-6.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3439 on: November 26, 2021, 09:08:38 PM »

^^^^

Thatís exactly right. Youíd have the usual suspects on this thread and IRL complaining the United States of America canít do it it even though tons of other countries can and are.
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edwaleni

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3440 on: November 26, 2021, 11:58:26 PM »

The Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 is almost 1.7 miles long. I get the feeling if that tunnel didn't already exist and was going to be proposed today it might not ever get built. Drivers on I-70 going from Denver to Utah would be stuck taking US-6.

The Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel cost about $1.1 billion in 2021 dollars, but construction was spread out over several years. Eisenhower bore (1973) and the Johnson bore (1979)

Since it is 2.7km long and used boring machines and not blast, it was done much, much cheaper than the Hopper Tunnel on a per meter basis.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3441 on: Today at 12:26:34 AM »

The Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 is almost 1.7 miles long. I get the feeling if that tunnel didn't already exist and was going to be proposed today it might not ever get built. Drivers on I-70 going from Denver to Utah would be stuck taking US-6.

The Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel cost about $1.1 billion in 2021 dollars, but construction was spread out over several years. Eisenhower bore (1973) and the Johnson bore (1979)

Since it is 2.7km long and used boring machines and not blast, it was done much, much cheaper than the Hopper Tunnel on a per meter basis.

We just need to put it out for bids and have the Boring Company put in the low bid.  Surely sandstone and shale aren't more difficult to bore through than what they wallowed out from Elon's parking lot.
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