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Author Topic: I-49 in Arkansas  (Read 999253 times)

O Tamandua

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3325 on: November 03, 2021, 10:57:49 AM »

Even though there is a really serious shortage of truck drivers (as well as shortage of drivers for anything else that requires a CDL) an increase in rail traffic on a corridor from a merged CP/KCS network isn't going to make all that much of a dent in truck traffic on I-35. The line running along the OK/AR border isn't exactly the Southern Transcon. And there is still huge numbers of trucks on the I-44/I-40 combo despite upwards of 100 trains per day on the Southern Transcon.

Freight rail is very important to the nation's infrastructure. But it doesn't go everywhere, or even to a lot of locations it used to serve. Thousands of miles worth of track has been removed just within the last 30 years. Even with some improvements, such as double-track upgrades to the main lines, trucks on highways are still going to be very necessary to get shipments to their destinations.

True.  But the line running along the OK/AR border is about to be something even the east-west "transcons" aren't - a seamless link between North America's three biggest nations.  That same TRAINS article has maps indicating they're going to be running dedicated intermodals along the original Kansas City Southern Kansas City-Port Arthur mainline.  Unfortunately, the maps are smaller and poor quality on the web article.  As it is, the KCS has just been running manifest freights with a bunch of intermodal cars trailing at the end and never full container/trailer trains as they are planning now.  They're also planning on investing a LOT of money putting in sidings and other changes to this line, so there will be some benefit to the AR/OK region while that goes on.

Apologies for the bad humor about the trucks, as they will never be replaced despite the problems that industry faces right now.  That being said, it's still amazing to me just how important this particluar corridor is becoming not just for the interstates but also the railroads.  IMO, the I-49 corridor and the CPKC may end up complementing one another, as has happened in many other U.S. transit routes.
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edwaleni

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3326 on: November 03, 2021, 01:31:37 PM »

Even though there is a really serious shortage of truck drivers (as well as shortage of drivers for anything else that requires a CDL) an increase in rail traffic on a corridor from a merged CP/KCS network isn't going to make all that much of a dent in truck traffic on I-35. The line running along the OK/AR border isn't exactly the Southern Transcon. And there is still huge numbers of trucks on the I-44/I-40 combo despite upwards of 100 trains per day on the Southern Transcon.

Freight rail is very important to the nation's infrastructure. But it doesn't go everywhere, or even to a lot of locations it used to serve. Thousands of miles worth of track has been removed just within the last 30 years. Even with some improvements, such as double-track upgrades to the main lines, trucks on highways are still going to be very necessary to get shipments to their destinations.

True.  But the line running along the OK/AR border is about to be something even the east-west "transcons" aren't - a seamless link between North America's three biggest nations.  That same TRAINS article has maps indicating they're going to be running dedicated intermodals along the original Kansas City Southern Kansas City-Port Arthur mainline.  Unfortunately, the maps are smaller and poor quality on the web article.  As it is, the KCS has just been running manifest freights with a bunch of intermodal cars trailing at the end and never full container/trailer trains as they are planning now.  They're also planning on investing a LOT of money putting in sidings and other changes to this line, so there will be some benefit to the AR/OK region while that goes on.

Apologies for the bad humor about the trucks, as they will never be replaced despite the problems that industry faces right now.  That being said, it's still amazing to me just how important this particluar corridor is becoming not just for the interstates but also the railroads.  IMO, the I-49 corridor and the CPKC may end up complementing one another, as has happened in many other U.S. transit routes.

I read the same article in Trains.

While the railroads would "like" to replace trucks, that actually isn't what is occurring.

Shippers rely heavily on trucks to dray containers to their endpoints, most of which are nowhere near a rail spur or terminal.

There are some cases of long distance drays, recently discovered was that shippers were trucking containers to Idaho from the Port of Los Angeles.

That was recently adjusted as UP is now creating blocks of containers to push up to Salt Lake City and have shipper dray them from there.

No matter where they get dropped, you still need drivers and chassis to get them to their endpoint.

CSX recently gave up on switching containers into Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and told shippers to dray the containers out of Chicago instead.

Back to KCS-CP, the big products up front will be a direct route for CP to get Alberta shale oil to the US Petro Coast and in return auto parts from Mexico to Michigan and Canadian auto assemblies.

Those will be the backbone products that make the route a winner.  When Alberta signed that major oil export and carriage deal with CN and CP, they both had customers on each side of Canada, but only CN had a direct route to the Petro Coast. Now with the merger, CP does as well.

How does impact I-49 (or I-35)?

Looking at it from a shipper perspective, there might be opportunities to get containers drayed from KC instead of from Houston. This would reduce the amount of truck volume out of Texas going north. But most shippers are not going to dray out of KC and drive back down to say Joplin/Springfield via I-49.

The one stumbling block for cross border rail from Mexico to the US, is the lack of rail capacity relative to the volumes. This is why there are so many trucks coming up out of south Texas. The railroads are just not efficient at these movements.

I don't think CP-KCS has the silver bullet so much as direct access to the Mexican suppliers. This requires little or no humping/switching/transfer at the US border. This gets them a time to market edge.

As long as trucks can move product north more effectively than trains can, then capacity for highways will always be required.

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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3327 on: November 05, 2021, 10:20:21 AM »

Any updates on the timing to finish the exit from 49SB to US71?  My wife drove the BVB last night for the first time.  It's a huge upgrade.  She was very pleased with it and how nice it was to skip the traffic in Bella Vista.

I'm told this coming Friday.

I was there a couple of days ago and used the exit again for the first time since they closed it.  It is open solely for right turns at this point, and they still need to finish redoing the curbs and drainage that undoubtedly collapsed under the weight of a forced rockslide, so there'll be occasional lane shifts even after they open it to left turning onto US-71 North at the SPUI.  Work vehicles on the offramp still visible on Arkansas' most viewed traffic cam.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3328 on: November 05, 2021, 11:15:10 AM »

Even though there is a really serious shortage of truck drivers (as well as shortage of drivers for anything else that requires a CDL) an increase in rail traffic on a corridor from a merged CP/KCS network isn't going to make all that much of a dent in truck traffic on I-35. The line running along the OK/AR border isn't exactly the Southern Transcon. And there is still huge numbers of trucks on the I-44/I-40 combo despite upwards of 100 trains per day on the Southern Transcon.

Freight rail is very important to the nation's infrastructure. But it doesn't go everywhere, or even to a lot of locations it used to serve. Thousands of miles worth of track has been removed just within the last 30 years. Even with some improvements, such as double-track upgrades to the main lines, trucks on highways are still going to be very necessary to get shipments to their destinations.

True.  But the line running along the OK/AR border is about to be something even the east-west "transcons" aren't - a seamless link between North America's three biggest nations.  That same TRAINS article has maps indicating they're going to be running dedicated intermodals along the original Kansas City Southern Kansas City-Port Arthur mainline.  Unfortunately, the maps are smaller and poor quality on the web article.  As it is, the KCS has just been running manifest freights with a bunch of intermodal cars trailing at the end and never full container/trailer trains as they are planning now.  They're also planning on investing a LOT of money putting in sidings and other changes to this line, so there will be some benefit to the AR/OK region while that goes on.

Apologies for the bad humor about the trucks, as they will never be replaced despite the problems that industry faces right now.  That being said, it's still amazing to me just how important this particluar corridor is becoming not just for the interstates but also the railroads.  IMO, the I-49 corridor and the CPKC may end up complementing one another, as has happened in many other U.S. transit routes.

I read the same article in Trains.

While the railroads would "like" to replace trucks, that actually isn't what is occurring.

Shippers rely heavily on trucks to dray containers to their endpoints, most of which are nowhere near a rail spur or terminal.

There are some cases of long distance drays, recently discovered was that shippers were trucking containers to Idaho from the Port of Los Angeles.

That was recently adjusted as UP is now creating blocks of containers to push up to Salt Lake City and have shipper dray them from there.

No matter where they get dropped, you still need drivers and chassis to get them to their endpoint.

CSX recently gave up on switching containers into Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and told shippers to dray the containers out of Chicago instead.

Back to KCS-CP, the big products up front will be a direct route for CP to get Alberta shale oil to the US Petro Coast and in return auto parts from Mexico to Michigan and Canadian auto assemblies.

Those will be the backbone products that make the route a winner.  When Alberta signed that major oil export and carriage deal with CN and CP, they both had customers on each side of Canada, but only CN had a direct route to the Petro Coast. Now with the merger, CP does as well.

How does impact I-49 (or I-35)?

Looking at it from a shipper perspective, there might be opportunities to get containers drayed from KC instead of from Houston. This would reduce the amount of truck volume out of Texas going north. But most shippers are not going to dray out of KC and drive back down to say Joplin/Springfield via I-49.

The one stumbling block for cross border rail from Mexico to the US, is the lack of rail capacity relative to the volumes. This is why there are so many trucks coming up out of south Texas. The railroads are just not efficient at these movements.

I don't think CP-KCS has the silver bullet so much as direct access to the Mexican suppliers. This requires little or no humping/switching/transfer at the US border. This gets them a time to market edge.

As long as trucks can move product north more effectively than trains can, then capacity for highways will always be required.

The Trains article stated that the merger would result in the diversion of 64,000 long haul truck loads (annually I assume), so that doesn't significantly affect the truck traffic on either I-35 or I-49/I-69.  Apparently the growth they estimate in train counts isn't going to be intermodal in nature for the most part with those counts.
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3329 on: November 05, 2021, 07:27:17 PM »

The map showing the CPKC merger plan showed mostly modest increases in train traffic across the network. The leg between Kansas City and Shreveport currently carries 11 trains per day and is forecast to increase to 25 trains per day. That's a big increase, but maybe not enough to force a double-track upgrade for the entire leg. The busiest rail routes in the US carry upwards of 100 trains per day or even more along some stretches, like the BNSF Racetrack in the Chicago area or the UP main thru North Platte. The Bailey Yard in North Platte is the largest rail yard in the world. I-80 runs nearby.

Hopefully upgrades planned for parts of the CPKC network, such as that KC to Shreveport leg, will lead to some economic growth on the AR/OK border. The NWA region would need to see quite a bit more growth in order to attract something like passenger rail service. The Heartland Flyer route might pose a conflict since it is in relatively close proximity. Amtrak is enhancing the existing services on the existing Heartland Flyer line. The line will soon be extended North from Oklahoma City up to Wichita and Newton, KS where it will connect with the main Southwest Chief line (Chicago-LA). Those plans might compete with any future efforts to put passenger rail service parallel to the I-49 corridor.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3330 on: November 06, 2021, 05:40:26 PM »

Does anyone know or can guess how much 49 between Ft. Smith and Texarkana will cost. It's taking over 800 million in GA for the GA400/285 interchange, that covers around 20-25 square miles, and it's among the costliest projects in State history? I'm hoping that 400 million can get 49 completed in 15 years?
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3331 on: November 06, 2021, 05:48:32 PM »

Iím guessing at least a few billion, at minimum, given todayís costs of projects.
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Tomahawkin

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3332 on: November 06, 2021, 07:41:00 PM »

Anyone know how much it was to build 49 from Greenland to Alma? I guessing it would be that cost times 8, so you are right, it could be 1.2 to 2 billion, I forgot to add in the Arkansas River Bridge cost...Most likely it will be built in segments like IH 22 Was... But that took 25+ years
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US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3333 on: November 06, 2021, 08:19:33 PM »

Anyone know how much it was to build 49 from Greenland to Alma? I guessing it would be that cost times 8, so you are right, it could be 1.2 to 2 billion, I forgot to add in the Arkansas River Bridge cost...Most likely it will be built in segments like IH 22 Was... But that took 25+ years

If I'm reading this correctly, it's projected to be $235.4 million for the Arkansas River Bridge plus and additional $235.4 million to construct the roadway to Hwy 22

https://www.interstate-guide.com/i-049/
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3334 on: November 06, 2021, 09:51:37 PM »

Cheesewhiz... IMO, Walmart, JB Hunt and Tyson would benefit to add to the funding, as well as adding warehouses and logistics facilities along That route which would bring jobs to those areas from Ft Smith Southward? I have heard that Ft. Smith is a decaying city that needs more revenue??? I heard this 15 years ago from someone I hangout with a lot when I was in Fayetteville...
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3335 on: November 06, 2021, 09:52:02 PM »

Anyone know how much it was to build 49 from Greenland to Alma? I guessing it would be that cost times 8, so you are right, it could be 1.2 to 2 billion, I forgot to add in the Arkansas River Bridge cost...Most likely it will be built in segments like IH 22 Was... But that took 25+ years

If I'm reading this correctly, it's projected to be $235.4 million for the Arkansas River Bridge plus and additional $235.4 million to construct the roadway to Hwy 22

https://www.interstate-guide.com/i-049/
Iím curious if that cost is for the whole four lane roadway or the two lanes that ARDOT was planning to build first.

Maybe they can just build all 4 lanes now that the infrastructure bill has passed. Cheaper than having to back and do it at a higher price (due to inflation).
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3336 on: November 06, 2021, 10:19:26 PM »

Quote from: Tomakawkin
I have heard that Ft. Smith is a decaying city that needs more revenue???

Fort Smith is kind of a mixed bag. They've been doing some work to spruce up the downtown. The improvements aren't as big in scale as a city like Pueblo. Garrison Avenue looks pretty decent approaching the riverfront. Some other parts of Fort Smith look pretty trashy. It reminds me of Lawton in some respects. Blight is pretty common in communities where much of the population is struggling with relatively low, stagnant incomes.

Quote from: Tomakawkin
Does anyone know or can guess how much 49 between Ft. Smith and Texarkana will cost.

Considering how many years will pass before the Fort Smith-Texarkana leg of I-49 is completed it's almost pointless to even guess at a final cost. The total will easily run into the billions. How many billions depends on how many decades they burn past building the highway. At the current pace we'll be lucky to see the Alma-Barling segment of I-49 fully complete before 2030. That segment alone may end up costing over a billion. It may be another 30 years past that before the rest of the freeway is completed.

One would think with all the advances that have been made in technology and engineering over the past few decades the innovations would have led to things like highway projects getting designed and completed much faster. If anything the progress has slowed way the hell down and costs have spiked over the moon.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3337 on: November 06, 2021, 10:28:13 PM »

Maybe they can just build all 4 lanes now that the infrastructure bill has passed. Cheaper than having to back and do it at a higher price (due to inflation).
Let's hope.  Between inflation on a high-cost part of the project and the utility of that segment, I would think getting it all done if the funding can be found would be a prudent course of action.
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US71

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3338 on: November 07, 2021, 08:12:13 AM »

Cheesewhiz... IMO, Walmart, JB Hunt and Tyson would benefit to add to the funding, as well as adding warehouses and logistics facilities along That route which would bring jobs to those areas from Ft Smith Southward? I have heard that Ft. Smith is a decaying city that needs more revenue??? I heard this 15 years ago from someone I hangout with a lot when I was in Fayetteville...

The Big 3 helped to bring 71/540/49 to NW Arkansas with the help of their political connections.
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3339 on: November 07, 2021, 03:48:23 PM »

Cheesewhiz... IMO, Walmart, JB Hunt and Tyson would benefit to add to the funding, as well as adding warehouses and logistics facilities along That route which would bring jobs to those areas from Ft Smith Southward? I have heard that Ft. Smith is a decaying city that needs more revenue??? I heard this 15 years ago from someone I hangout with a lot when I was in Fayetteville...

The Big 3 helped to bring 71/540/49 to NW Arkansas with the help of their political connections.

I think you downplay the importance of UofA.  The University as far as it is from Little Rock is seemingly the center of the rest of Arkansas that is not in Pulaski or Garland COunties.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3340 on: November 07, 2021, 05:24:24 PM »


One would think with all the advances that have been made in technology and engineering over the past few decades the innovations would have led to things like highway projects getting designed and completed much faster. If anything the progress has slowed way the hell down and costs have spiked over the moon.

Those advances in technology and engineering have been overcome by larger deficits in environmental impact reviews and more attention to public hearings and listening to every nimby.

This is just not 1966 anymore when it comes to highway construction. Some of the changes were good (like not targeting poor neighborhoods), some of the changes were detrimental, (like saving every McWhorter's Yellow-bellied finch)
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3341 on: November 07, 2021, 05:34:19 PM »

If I were a McWhorter's yellow-bellied finch, I'd want to be saved.
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3342 on: November 07, 2021, 06:48:26 PM »



One would think with all the advances that have been made in technology and engineering over the past few decades the innovations would have led to things like highway projects getting designed and completed much faster. If anything the progress has slowed way the hell down and costs have spiked over the moon.


No, the level of microengineering and microinspections are the results.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2021, 08:40:03 PM by bwana39 »
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3343 on: November 07, 2021, 07:12:26 PM »

The map showing the CPKC merger plan showed mostly modest increases in train traffic across the network. The leg between Kansas City and Shreveport currently carries 11 trains per day and is forecast to increase to 25 trains per day. That's a big increase, but maybe not enough to force a double-track upgrade for the entire leg. The busiest rail routes in the US carry upwards of 100 trains per day or even more along some stretches, like the BNSF Racetrack in the Chicago area or the UP main thru North Platte. The Bailey Yard in North Platte is the largest rail yard in the world. I-80 runs nearby.

Hopefully upgrades planned for parts of the CPKC network, such as that KC to Shreveport leg, will lead to some economic growth on the AR/OK border. The NWA region would need to see quite a bit more growth in order to attract something like passenger rail service. The Heartland Flyer route might pose a conflict since it is in relatively close proximity. Amtrak is enhancing the existing services on the existing Heartland Flyer line. The line will soon be extended North from Oklahoma City up to Wichita and Newton, KS where it will connect with the main Southwest Chief line (Chicago-LA). Those plans might compete with any future efforts to put passenger rail service parallel to the I-49 corridor.

I-49 is 20 miles away from Siloam Springs, which is the closest city in Benton County to the bulk of the population of NWA, so passenger service on KCS wouldn't make sense for NWA anyway.  The Arkansas-Missouri Railroad (Class III) goes through the heart of NWA and terminates in Monette, MO at the BNSF line there.  The other end terminates in Fort Smith, AR and interties with the UP, KCS, and Fort Smith RR there.  There is an excursion train that seasonally runs on the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad between Springdale and Van Buren or Winslow, depending on the day.  I have ridden it from Cassville, MO all the way to Ft. Smith, AR, and it's a very scenic ride, especially this time of year.  I wouldn't call it a regular passenger service, though.  Jefferson Bus Lines would be the closest thing to a passenger service along the I-49 corridor.  There would pretty much need to be a spur line run along the US-412/I-**(*) corridor for any KCS passenger service for NWA to Siloam Springs.  Gravette, AR would be the closest community to I-49 and the KCS mainline, other than Ft. Smith, which isn't in NWA at all, and not on KCS's mainline either, but on a spur line.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3344 on: November 07, 2021, 07:28:00 PM »

Quote from: Tomakawkin
I have heard that Ft. Smith is a decaying city that needs more revenue???

Fort Smith is kind of a mixed bag. They've been doing some work to spruce up the downtown. The improvements aren't as big in scale as a city like Pueblo. Garrison Avenue looks pretty decent approaching the riverfront. Some other parts of Fort Smith look pretty trashy. It reminds me of Lawton in some respects. Blight is pretty common in communities where much of the population is struggling with relatively low, stagnant incomes.

Quote from: Tomakawkin
Does anyone know or can guess how much 49 between Ft. Smith and Texarkana will cost.

Considering how many years will pass before the Fort Smith-Texarkana leg of I-49 is completed it's almost pointless to even guess at a final cost. The total will easily run into the billions. How many billions depends on how many decades they burn past building the highway. At the current pace we'll be lucky to see the Alma-Barling segment of I-49 fully complete before 2030. That segment alone may end up costing over a billion. It may be another 30 years past that before the rest of the freeway is completed.

One would think with all the advances that have been made in technology and engineering over the past few decades the innovations would have led to things like highway projects getting designed and completed much faster. If anything the progress has slowed way the hell down and costs have spiked over the moon.

Fort Smith's growth will happen more towards Barling along the Future I-49 corridor on the Chaffee Crossing development that is on Fort Chaffee's donated land from its downsizing during numerous BRAC sessions.  Downtown will see a tiny bit of gentrification, but there just isn't an adequate push to develop the riverfront to make much of a difference, which is a shame as there's all the possibility in the world there that's just wasted on an inept/corrupt city government running the show.  Fort Smith and Texarkana both will need some growth outside of a completed I-49 to get the push to make it a sufficient priority as it will take growth in US-71 traffic and the attendant accident/LOS decays to make it a priority.  I see Texarkana growing faster than Ft. Smith, so the push will come from the south more likely than not, which means that I-69 in TX would make a larger difference than anything that I can envision within AR for the foreseeable future.  If Arkansas doesn't at least get a Super-2 along with ROW for the full freeway within the next 20 years, there's a risk of the route running from Ft. Smith to Mena along the US-59 corridor like the KCS did, rather than in AR along US-71.  Quite frankly, Poteau, OK is more deserving of an Interstate than anything in Arkansas along US-71 north of Mena and south of Ft. Smith.  Terrain is certainly easier, which is why the railroad went that way.
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3345 on: November 08, 2021, 01:53:22 AM »

Oklahoma won't pay to upgrade a US 69 that runs right through the middle of it. Why would they pay for an I-49 that goes from Arkansas to Arkansas?
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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3346 on: November 08, 2021, 10:10:13 AM »

Oklahoma won't pay to upgrade a US 69 that runs right through the middle of it. Why would they pay for an I-49 that goes from Arkansas to Arkansas?
And besides, I-49 will not go anywhere near OK, so that's a nonstarter for them.
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MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3347 on: November 08, 2021, 12:06:16 PM »

Any updates on the timing to finish the exit from 49SB to US71?  My wife drove the BVB last night for the first time.  It's a huge upgrade.  She was very pleased with it and how nice it was to skip the traffic in Bella Vista.

Looks like Nov. 23 will be when they wrap everything up finally at the SB offramp/SPUI.

Construction Requires Lane Closures at Bella Vista Bypass Interchange in Bentonville
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3348 on: November 08, 2021, 11:29:16 PM »

Oklahoma won't pay to upgrade a US 69 that runs right through the middle of it. Why would they pay for an I-49 that goes from Arkansas to Arkansas?

I tend to agree. If the feds were to dictate the route, they might play ball but otherwise no. One irony is that it is virtually the same mileage wise and the grade would be far less.
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Let's build what we need as economically as possible.

MikieTimT

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Re: I-49 in Arkansas
« Reply #3349 on: November 09, 2021, 07:28:25 AM »

Oklahoma won't pay to upgrade a US 69 that runs right through the middle of it. Why would they pay for an I-49 that goes from Arkansas to Arkansas?

I tend to agree. If the feds were to dictate the route, they might play ball but otherwise no. One irony is that it is virtually the same mileage wise and the grade would be far less.

Which is why the KCS routing goes that way as railroads are far more grade sensitive.  So, Poteau has gotten as much road as it's ever going to get despite its being the same size as Greenwood, AR.
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