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Author Topic: I-540 should have never been extended  (Read 7285 times)

bugo

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I-540 should have never been extended
« on: May 20, 2012, 04:55:41 AM »

It's silly for the Alma-Bentonville freeway to be numbered I-540 when it's ultimately going to be numbered I-49.  Why would they give it a temporary designation, when they know it's temporary?  Why do they choose to confuse travelers?  Why not just get it over with and name it I-49 as soon as possible?
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2012, 09:51:28 AM »

A) When I-540 was first designated north of Alma, I-49 was still just a pipe dream.

B) Driver familiarity with the I-540 designation.

C) I-49 is by no means assured.  Just look at how much trouble they've had finding funding (even TOLL funding) for around Bella Vista.
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 10:17:11 AM »

A) When I-540 was first designated north of Alma, I-49 was still just a pipe dream.

B) Driver familiarity with the I-540 designation.

C) I-49 is by no means assured.  Just look at how much trouble they've had finding funding (even TOLL funding) for around Bella Vista.


You know that near Memphis AASHTO granted ole Miss to allow I-69 to be signed even though its only a few miles and years from being connected to the other I-69 in IN and MI.  He has a valid point.

What about AR 349 not being signed as I-49 when LaDOT is already constructing the missing 30 mile link between Shreveport and the Arkansas Border?
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2012, 10:26:20 AM »

I'm confused. What do you mean when you say I-540 should have never been extended?
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2012, 10:46:19 AM »

A) When I-540 was first designated north of Alma, I-49 was still just a pipe dream.

B) Driver familiarity with the I-540 designation.

C) I-49 is by no means assured.  Just look at how much trouble they've had finding funding (even TOLL funding) for around Bella Vista.


You know that near Memphis AASHTO granted ole Miss to allow I-69 to be signed even though its only a few miles and years from being connected to the other I-69 in IN and MI.  He has a valid point.

What about AR 349 not being signed as I-49 when LaDOT is already constructing the missing 30 mile link between Shreveport and the Arkansas Border?

AR 549, LaDOTD, and at least Arkansas is willing to follow the precedent of waiting until LA completes their segments before going for I-49 signage.
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Grzrd

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2012, 01:35:51 PM »

It's silly for the Alma-Bentonville freeway to be numbered I-540 when it's ultimately going to be numbered I-49 ...  Why not just get it over with and name it I-49 as soon as possible?

I agree. First, at least AHTD tried to change the designation from I-540 to I-49 in 2007 but got shot down by AASHTO (page 2/6 of pdf).  Missouri also got shot down in 2007 (page 3/6 of pdf).  However, Missouri came back to AASHTO in 2011 and I-49 shields will be uncovered in Missouri in December 2012 (page 6/8 of pdf).

Missouri I-49 signage will create a new reality: a huge interstate I-49 "gap" from Pineville, Missouri to Shreveport, Louisiana.  In funding priority terms, a new reality of tight money is that corridors of "regional and national significance" will receive priority for funding.  With that in mind, and with two sections of the Arkansas Bella Vista Bypass having been let/ now under construction, I think AHTD would be crazy to not go back to AASHTO for a designation change (as an aside, Missouri's conditional signage approval includes the unlet/ no current construction Missouri section of the Bella Vista Bypass).

I understand that, if you look at it from a purely Arkansas perspective, then the reality that the Arkansas I-30 to I-40 gap will be around for a long time is an argument for not signing it.  However, from the regional/ national perspective, AASHTO has already blessed the "big gap" between Missouri and Louisiana.  Why not shrink the "big gap" by changing I-540 to I-49 (as well as signing I-49 from Shreveport to the Texas state line)? Shrinking the "big gap" on a map will drive home the point to even the most simple-minded Congressperson that I-49 is a corridor of regional and national significance.  Plus, the smaller the gap, the more that completion of I-49 seems "doable", which in turn stengthens the argument for I-49 funding.  After all, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have survived the I-95 "gap" for a seeming eternity.

As far as driver confusion goes, in a very short period of time drivers driving on I-49 south from Missouri will wonder why the same interstate is suddenly numbered I-540 (did we mistakenly get on a bypass?; I-40 is nowhere near Bella Vista  :confused:).  I think the locals living along I-540 would welcome the number change, especially if it would make their interstate more "important" in funding terms.  AHTD should follow MoDOT's lead and make a return visit to AASHTO.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 02:47:31 PM by Grzrd »
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dariusb

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2012, 04:38:04 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2012, 05:19:23 PM »

I-49 was lobbied by all the energy interests down along the Gulf Coast.  I-540 predated that lobbying for quite some time.  When they extended I-540, it was around that time MoDOT started to beef up the US 71 corridor.  When there was not one but two winter storms that shut down I-44 in Oklahoma last year, MoDOT really cranked up the work on the 71 corridor, as they now see that corridor as a wonderful alternate route to the turnpikes in Oklahoma.  MoDOT is literally doing "all hands on deck" approach to I-49, with hopes that Arkansas would treat their portion (especially Texarkana to Fort Smith segment) as high priority.

As for I-69, Arkansas doesn't see it as a priority at all.  They haven't built anything relating to it from what anyone knows, and nothing relating on I-69 is on their long-term plans.
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2012, 05:49:14 PM »

It's silly for the Alma-Bentonville freeway to be numbered I-540 when it's ultimately going to be numbered I-49.  Why would they give it a temporary designation, when they know it's temporary?  Why do they choose to confuse travelers?  Why not just get it over with and name it I-49 as soon as possible?

"North" 540 was planned as far back as the late 1960's. It was originally proposed to connect with "South" 540 at I-40 (I have a Crawford County map showing a proposed routing).

When "North" 540 was proposed in the 1980's, it was intended to be a new US 71, replacing the 2-Lane between Alma & Fayetteville, with "old" 71 becoming (I believe) AR 471.

Too many tourist spots protested moving the US 71 designation to a new alignment fearing no one would know the old highway was once US 71, which (it was feared) would harm their businesses. So "new" 71 got redesignated as AR 540 and later I-540.  Why it wasn't given a different designation (such as I-340 or I-740), I don't know.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2012, 02:05:05 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.
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dariusb

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2012, 02:26:15 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.


From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

Ok. So AHTD couldn't have upgraded the freeway to current standards? Also, couldn't they have started building I-49 from a point near the 71 exit before 540 heads into Oklahoma? Just seems cheaper than building a whole new freeway.
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US71

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2012, 09:23:23 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.


From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

Ok. So AHTD couldn't have upgraded the freeway to current standards? Also, couldn't they have started building I-49 from a point near the 71 exit before 540 heads into Oklahoma? Just seems cheaper than building a whole new freeway.


The area is overgrown with commercial & residential interests, so it would be expensive to move them. As was also mentioned, "south" 540 itself is substandard, having been built in the late 1960's. The lanes and and shoulders need a lot of improvement. 
Another factor is much of the land being used in the Ft Smith area was obtained for cheap as it was once part of Fort Chaffee.

Besides, when has Arkansas ever done anything the easy way?
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dariusb

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2012, 02:55:49 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.


From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

Ok. So AHTD couldn't have upgraded the freeway to current standards? Also, couldn't they have started building I-49 from a point near the 71 exit before 540 heads into Oklahoma? Just seems cheaper than building a whole new freeway.


The area is overgrown with commercial & residential interests, so it would be expensive to move them. As was also mentioned, "south" 540 itself is substandard, having been built in the late 1960's. The lanes and and shoulders need a lot of improvement. 
Another factor is much of the land being used in the Ft Smith area was obtained for cheap as it was once part of Fort Chaffee.

Besides, when has Arkansas ever done anything the easy way?

Lol, I know right!
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 04:07:40 PM »

Quote
You know that near Memphis AASHTO granted ole Miss to allow I-69 to be signed even though its only a few miles and years from being connected to the other I-69 in IN and MI.  He has a valid point.

There's a difference.  I-69 was SPECIFICALLY WRITTEN into Federal legislation, so FHWA's hands are effectively tied when it comes to I-69.  Not so the case with the I-49/I-540 corridor.
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bugo

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 10:29:05 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

Ft Smith is built up too much south of 540 on 71.  When I was a kid, there wasn't much there besides the Planter's plant, but now there are many businesses along that stretch.  And I-540 wasn't built to be a long distance freeway, it was built to be a spur,  It would have to be widened to 8 lanes to handle all that traffic.
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bugo

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2012, 10:32:19 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

540 doesn't feed into the turnpikes, it feeds into US 271 and OK 9 and eventually US 59.
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dariusb

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2012, 01:29:21 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

Ft Smith is built up too much south of 540 on 71.  When I was a kid, there wasn't much there besides the Planter's plant, but now there are many businesses along that stretch.  And I-540 wasn't built to be a long distance freeway, it was built to be a spur,  It would have to be widened to 8 lanes to handle all that traffic.
How many lanes does 540 through Ft Smith currently have?
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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2012, 01:48:41 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

Ft Smith is built up too much south of 540 on 71.  When I was a kid, there wasn't much there besides the Planter's plant, but now there are many businesses along that stretch.  And I-540 wasn't built to be a long distance freeway, it was built to be a spur,  It would have to be widened to 8 lanes to handle all that traffic.
How many lanes does 540 through Ft Smith currently have?

Four for the entire length of the spur. No sections with auxiliary lanes either.

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2012, 11:50:38 AM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

What turnpikes? The closest one is the Muskogee Turnpike at Webbers Falls. There is no rational way for south I-540 traffic to travel to Webbers Falls.

rte66man
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US71

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2012, 09:52:15 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

What turnpikes? The closest one is the Muskogee Turnpike at Webbers Falls. There is no rational way for south I-540 traffic to travel to Webbers Falls.

rte66man

Muskogee Turnpike would have to be extended south. I've seen this as a fantasy routing, but not as a legitimate proposal.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2012, 11:40:06 PM »

Thanks, guys...I stand corrected. (Or sit corrected, as it is.)   :sombrero:

I kinda thought that it was narrow ROW and no auxillary lanes that prevented the original I-540 from being used for I-49.
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bugo

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Re: I-540 should have never been extended
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2012, 08:25:53 PM »

Another thing I don't understand is why isn't 540 through Ft Smith going to be part of I-49? It would make more sense to use that instead of building a whole new section east of the city.

From what I know, existing I-540 wouldn't meet modern Interstate standards (due to substandard medians and inadequate inside shoulder widths. Plus, it feeds westward into Oklahoma and the turnpikes, which would be a no-no to Arkansas.

What turnpikes? The closest one is the Muskogee Turnpike at Webbers Falls. There is no rational way for south I-540 traffic to travel to Webbers Falls.

rte66man

Muskogee Turnpike would have to be extended south. I've seen this as a fantasy routing, but not as a legitimate proposal.

It was proposed to be extended to Poteau by the OTA back in the '80s.
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