Interstate 49 in Arkansas

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Interstate 49

I-49 highlighted in red, AR 549 highlighted in blue
Route information
NHSEntire route
Southern segment
South end I-49 at the Louisiana state line
Major intersections
North end US 71 / US 59 in Texarkana
Northern segment
South end I-40 / US 71 in Alma
Major intersections
North end I-49 at the Missouri state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesMiller, Sebastian, Crawford, Washington, Benton
Highway system
AR 48 US 49
I-540AR 549 I-555

Interstate 49 (I-49) is an Interstate Highway in the state of Arkansas. There are two main sections of the highway across different sides of the state. The southern section starts at the Louisiana state line, then runs to Texarkana, at the Texas state line. The northern section begins at I-40 and at U.S. Highway 71 (US 71) in Alma and runs north to the Missouri state line, where the freeway continues into Missouri. An additional small section south of Fort Smith is currently designated as Highway 549 (AR 549) until it is extended northward to the I-40 interchange, at which point it will become part of I-49.

Route description

I-49 enters the state from Louisiana between Ida and Doddridge. The first interchange in Arkansas is with US 71 at exit 4. The Interstate passes near the town of Fouke, where it has another interchange with US 71. The highway enters Texarkana and has an interchange with Highway 151 and runs along the eastern portion of the Texarkana Loop. Between US 82 and US 67, I-49 passes near the Texarkana Regional Airport. The Interstate has an interchange with I-30 before leaving Texarkana. I-49 turns to the west near the Sanderson Lane exit. The Interstate terminates at US 59/US 71. In the Texarkana area, I-49 is known as the Hickerson Freeway, named after Prissy Hickerson.[1]

The Interstate begins again at exit 12 along I-40, one mile (1.6 km) west of Alma, continuing for over 65 miles (105 km) through Crawford, Washington, and Benton counties. It goes through the Ozark Mountains and crosses several large gorge bridges. Just north of the Crawford–Washington county line is the Bobby Hopper Tunnel which is the only large highway tunnel in Arkansas. Notable cities along the route are Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville. From I-40 north to Fayetteville, I-49 runs roughly parallel to US 71. Just south of Fayetteville, I-49 combines with US 71 and US 62, forming the major expressway through the northwest Arkansas metro area. US 71 separates from I-49 just south of the Bentonville–Bella Vista city line, where it continues northwest into and through Bella Vista as Bella Vista Way, the city's main thoroughfare. I-49 instead continues westward then northward known as the Bella Vista Bypass, running just to the south and west of the city before continuing into Missouri.


I-49 in Northwest Arkansas

The first portion of I-49 was completed in the late 1990s and was opened to Mountainburg as AR 540. On January 8, 1999, the road was fully opened to traffic and was redesignated part of an extension of I-540, with the name "John Paul Hammerschmidt Highway", in honor of a former US Representative from Arkansas.[2] Having been planned since the early 1970s, it created a bypass for the older US 71. The state of Arkansas had originally asked the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to allow this extension, between Fort Smith and Bentonville as I-49, to emphasize plans to extend the route from Shreveport, Louisiana, through Arkansas to Kansas City, Missouri.[3] AASHTO refused, and the route instead opened in 1999 as a northern extension of I-540.[3] However, this route would eventually be redesignated as I-49 in 2014.[4] The exit numbers are still numbered from when it was I-540. From AR 72 (exit 88) to AR 16 (exit 62), the highway was upgraded to a 6-lane freeway (3 lanes in each direction).[5]

AHTD conducted a feasibility study of adding an interchange at AR 162 in Van Buren in 1991, with the results adopted by the Arkansas State Highway Commission in 1992.[3] The Arkansas State Highway Commission (ASHC) studied a designation for I-540 between Mountainburg and Fayetteville as an Arkansas Scenic Byway in a meeting on November 17, 1998. One of the requirements of designation is "an active organization composed of various private and governmental groups, businesses, and agencies who are interested in preservation, enhancement, marketing, and development of the route's scenic, cultural, recreational, and historic qualities". The ASHC deemed that, since the highway was a new location route, it did not have sufficient businesses to satisfy the requirement, so the ASHC deemed itself a partner organization and proceeded with a designation study.[6] The route was added to the scenic byway system the following year.[7]

I-49 between I-30 and US 71 was finished in May 2013. The route to the Louisiana border was completed and opened on November 10, 2014.[8] The route to the Missouri border was completed and opened on October 1, 2021. On May 15, 2023, work began to renumber the northernmost four exits to correlate with the correct log mile designations.[9]

Arkansas Highway 549

Highway 549

LocationFort Smith

Highway 549 (AR 549) is a temporary designation the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) is currently using to designate opened sections of freeway that have not yet officially become part of I-49. There are three instances in which ArDOT has used this designation.

The first section of road to be designated as AR 549 is now the section of I-49 in the southern part of the state. AR 549 was first opened to traffic in December 2004 as a 29.49-mile (47.46 km) route between Texarkana and Fouke. A second section, between Fouke and Doddridge, opened on October 21, 2005. A third section between Arkansas Boulevard in Texarkana and US 71 north of Texarkana opened on May 15, 2013.[10] A fourth section 14 miles (23 km) long opened on November 10, 2014, when it officially became part of I-49.[8] At its final length, it was 41.94 miles (67.50 km).

The second section of road to be designated as AR 549 was the Bella Vista Bypass in the northern part of the state. The Bella Vista Bypass was first opened to traffic on April 22, 2014, as a three-mile (4.8 km) two-lane expressway bypassing Hiwasse, now part of the town of Gravette.[11] The route was eventually extended to Rocky Dell Hollow Road west of Bella Vista on May 13, 2015, and I-49/US 71 in Bentonville in 2017 with ribbon cutting on May 10, 2017, which included a roundabout at the US 71 and then terminus of I-49.[12] The Bella Vista Bypass was planned to be expanded to four lanes, connect directly into I-49 at its south end, and extend north into Missouri, having an interchange with Missouri Route 90 and rejoining I-49 near Pineville, Missouri. The groundbreaking on the final section between Rocky Dell Hollow Road and the Missouri state line occurred on October 15, 2019.[13] The bypass opened to traffic on October 1, 2021, following a ceremonial ribbon cutting on September 30, per ArDOT. With that, I-49 is now continuous from Kansas City, Missouri, to Fort Smith, Arkansas.[14][15] Additionally, as part of the project, the interchange with US 71/U.S. Highway 71 Business (US 71B) on the southern end of the 19-mile (31 km) bypass was reconstructed from a trumpet interchange into a single-point urban interchange, the first interchange of its type in Arkansas. The interchange was temporarily reconfigured as a roundabout interchange during construction on the bypass. The roundabout that opened in 2017 was removed.[16] The existing Bella Vista Bypass was upgraded to a four-lane highway.

The third section of road to be designated as AR 549 is a 6.5-mile (10.5 km) orphaned section bypassing Fort Smith. The section, which runs between US 71 and AR 22 and AR 255, opened to traffic following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 14, 2015.[17]


Eventually, I-49 will cross the entire state. It will cross into Texas for about 5 to 10 miles (8.0 to 16.1 km) and then cross over a not-yet-built bridge across the Red River into Arkansas. It will eventually reach De Queen, Arkansas, in the near future. It will then run near the western border of the state from De Queen to Fort Smith and will run parallel to US 71.

This stretch has been broken down into several smaller sections: the southernmost section from the Louisiana state line to Doddridge (already completed and opened), Doddridge to the Arkansas–Texas state line (eventually completed on November 10, 2014), the US 71 relocation (planned project, one 6.5-mile (10.5 km) part opened in 2015 as AR 549), an approximately 13.6-mile (21.9 km) stretch near Fort Smith (now in the planning stages), and part of I-540 (previously completed in 1999 and later signed as I-49 in June 2014).

The stretch near Fort Smith is now funded because voters passed Issue 1, the Connecting Arkansas Program (permanent extension of 0.5-cent road tax approved in 2012). It would have lasted for ten years (until June 30, 2023). At that time, it raised $1.8 billion. The annual impact for one year: an estimated $300 million. To finish I-49 in 10 years (assuming up to 90 percent federal match), $270 million ($27 million annually) would be needed. Construction on Arkansas River bridge near Barling is planned to occur in 2024. The estimated cost of this stretch is at $787 million, including the bridge over the Arkansas River ($300–$400 million). This segment needs to be reevaluated because the approval was issued in December 1997 and has since essentially expired.[18] This likely means that the section from Fort Smith to Texarkana (approved at the same time also) will also need to be reevaluated. This may be built two lanes at a time.

In July 2021, ArDOT announced that they will be progressing to the next phase of development on the 13.6-mile (21.9 km) segment between AR 22 in Barling (project start point) and I-49 in Alma (project end point). The segment will connect to the existing AR 549 on the northern end. Groundbreaking began on October 13, 2022, on the proposed southern extension of Future I-49 with construction expected to occur 2024 or 2025 and should be completed by the end of 2029.[19][20] Phase 1 will be from AR 22 to H Street. Phase 2 will be from H Street to I-40.[21][22] The Issue 1 approved in 2020 helped fund the project. In 2022, some studies to reduce the cost was made. The height of the planned bridge was shortened. The new roadway will open as a 4-lane meaning it can be designated as I-49. In addition, the existing roadway designated as AR 549 will be redesignated as I-49. The department is also cooperating with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on this project. This segment is now estimated to cost $800 million, almost half of which is going to the bridge over the Arkansas River.[23][24] ArDOT has mentioned that, after this project, they may work on extending to I-49 southward to Y City.[18][25][26]

On May 25, 2023, a ARDOT announced the proposal of a new north-south route to connect AR 612 near the Northwest Arkansas National Airport to the Bella Vista bypass (I-49) near Centerton.[27]

Exit list

StateCountyLocationmi[28]kmOld exit[9]New exit[a]DestinationsNotes
I-49 south – Shreveport
Continuation into Louisiana
4.276.874 US 71 – Doddridge
7.1511.516 CR 197
16.7326.9216 US 71 – Fouke
18.3429.5218North Fouke Road
23.9338.5124 CR 10 – Ferguson
26.5842.7826 AR 237
29A US 71 – TexarkanaSigned as exit 29 southbound

Loop 151 west to US 59 – Dallas, Houston
Loop 151 not signed; exit number not signed southbound
31.1950.2031 AR 196 (Genoa Road)
32 US 82 (9th Street) / 19th Street
33.6654.17 US 67 – TexarkanaClosed
34.5955.6735Four States Fair Parkway / Arkansas BoulevardFormer AR 245 north; access to Texarkana Regional Airport
36.6458.9737 I-30 – Texarkana, Dallas, Hope, Little RockSigned as exits 37A (east) and 37B (west); I-30 exit 3
39.9564.2941Sanderson Lane
ArkansasTexas line41.4966.7742 US 71 – Texarkana, Ashdown, Fort SmithTemporary northern end of I-49; exit number not signed; all northbound traffic must exit
I-369 south – Houston
46CR 2320 (Hush Puppy Road)Proposed
ArkansasLittle RiverRed RiverBridge
51 CR 23Proposed
55 AR 32B – AshdownProposed
57 AR 108Proposed
Wilton60 AR 234 – WiltonProposed
Sevier84 US 59 / US 70 / US 71 / US 371 – De QueenProposed
93 CR 41 (Tower Road) – GillhamProposed
PolkGrannis98 CR 3 – GrannisProposed
102 US 278 – WickesProposed
108 AR 246 – VandervoortProposed
126 AR 88 – MenaProposed
132 CR 70Proposed
Scott"Y" City143 US 71 / US 270Proposed
157 AR 80 – WaldronProposed
160 AR 28Proposed
165 AR 378Proposed
Mansfield171 US 71 – MansfieldProposed
Sebastian175 US 71 – HuntingtonProposed
183 AR 10 – GreenwoodProposed
0.000.00187 US 71 – Fort SmithOpened on July 14, 2015, as AR 549;[17] temporary southern end of AR 549; all southbound traffic must exit; future exit 187
Fort Smith3.044.89190Massard RoadOpened on July 14, 2015, as AR 549;[17] future exit 190
4.477.19191Roberts BoulevardOpened on July 14, 2015, as AR 549;[17] future exit 191
Barling6.4910.44193 AR 22 (Fort Street) – BarlingOpened on July 14, 2015, as AR 549;[17] temporary northern end of AR 549; all northbound traffic must exit; future exit 193
Arkansas RiverBridge
To AR 59 / Gun Club Road – Van Buren
Funded; to be completed by 2029; future exit 196
Kibler15Clear Creek Road – KiblerFunded; to be completed by 2029; future exit 202
17 AR 162 – AlmaFunded; to be completed by 2029; future exit 204
19.2330.9520 I-40 (US 71) – Van Buren, Fort Smith, Alma, Little RockI-40 exit 12; signed as exits 20A (east) and 20B (west), future exit 206; temporary southern end of I-49; from here northward, exit signs retain the same exit numbers from I-49's previous designation as I-540
Alma20.3132.6921Collum LaneFuture exit 207
23.6738.0924 AR 282 – RudyFuture exit 210
29.1046.8329 AR 282 – MountainburgAccess via AR 282S; future exit 215
33.5353.9634 AR 282 – ChesterFuture exit 220
Bobby Hopper Tunnel
Winslow44.9972.4045 AR 74 – WinslowFuture exit 231
West Fork52.7884.9453 AR 170 / AR 156 – West ForkFuture exit 239
Greenland57.8893.1558GreenlandFuture exit 244
Fayetteville60.5097.3760 AR 265 (Razorback Road) / AR 112 (Cato Springs Road)Future exit 246
US 71 south – Fayetteville
Southern end of US 71 concurrency; southbound exit and northbound entrance; future exit 247

To US 62 west (West 15th Street) – Fayetteville[34]
Proposed; northbound exit and southbound entrance only

US 62 west / AR 16 east (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard / AR 16 east) / AR 180 / AR 45
Southern end of US 62 / AR 16 concurrency; future exit 248; to be southbound exit and northbound entrance only

AR 16 west / AR 112S east (Wedington Drive)
Northern end of AR 16 concurrency; future exit 250
64.74104.1965Stephen Carr Memorial BoulevardPorter Road rededicated in July 2022;[35] future exit 251
66.96107.7667A AR 112 (Garland Avenue)Access to the University of Arkansas; future exit 253A
US 71B north / North Fulbright Expressway
Interchange opened around November 2017; access to Washington Regional Medical Center and Fayetteville Historic District; future exit 253B
Johnson69.88112.4669Johnson Mill BoulevardFuture exit 255
Springdale70.97114.2270Don Tyson ParkwayOpened July 7, 2014;[36] future exit 256
72.45116.6072 US 412 (Sunset Avenue)Future exit 258
73.86118.8773Elm Springs RoadFuture exit 259
Benton76.15122.5576Wagon Wheel RoadFuture exit 262
Lowell77.55124.8077 AR 612 (Springdale Northern Bypass) – Elm Springs, Cave SpringsFirst section opened on April 30, 2018; future exit 263; future eastern terminus of I-42
78.90126.9878 AR 264 (West Monroe Avenue)Access to Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport; future exit 264
Rogers81.01130.3781Pleasant Grove RoadFuture exit 267
82.79133.2482Promenade Boulevard / West Pauline Whittaker ParkwayFuture exit 268
83.90135.0283Pinnacle Hills Parkway / West New Hope RoadFuture exit 269
RogersBentonville line85.30137.2885

US 71B north / AR 12 west (SE Walton Boulevard)

US 71B south (W. Walnut Street)
Southern end of AR 12 concurrency; future exit 271

US 62 east / AR 12 east (Hudson Road) / AR 102 west (SE 14th Street)
Northern end of US 62 / AR 12 concurrency; future exit 272
87.29140.48878th StreetFuture exit 273
AR 72 east (E. Central Avenue)
Last exit of I-49's previous designation of I-540; split into exits 88A (east) and 88B (west) northbound; future exit 274

US 71 north / US 71B south (N. Walton Boulevard)
Northern end of US 71 concurrency; former northern end of I-49 until October 1, 2021; former southern end of AR 549; Single-point urban interchange;[37] exit renumbered on May 15, 2023;[38][39] future exit 279
HiwasseCenterton line98.28158.179997

AR 72 east (Centerton) / AR 72 west (Hiwasse)
Exit renumbered on May 15, 2023;[38][39] future exit 284
HiwasseGravette line101.23162.91102100

AR 72 east (Hiwasse) / AR 72 west (Gravette)
Exit renumbered on May 15, 2023;[38][39] future exit 287
Bella Vista103.63166.78104102 CR 34 (Rocky Dell Hollow Road)Former northern end of AR 549; exit renumbered on May 15, 2023;[38][39] future exit 289

I-49 north – Joplin
Continuation into Missouri
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

==See also==*Boston Mountains Scenic Loop


  1. ^ Exit numbers on the section of I-49 from I-40 to the Missouri border is based on the former I-540 exit numbering; others are based on the mileage from the Louisiana state line.[29][30][31][32][33]


  1. ^ "Loop 245 Named For Prissy Hickerson". KTBS-TV. July 23, 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Gerhardt, Kara (January 8, 1999). "Secretary Slater Joins in Dedication of Final Segment of Arkansas' I-540" (Press release). United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 2, 2009 – via The Crittenden Automotive Library.
  3. ^ a b c Arkansas State Highway Commission (January 22, 1991). "Minutes of the Meeting" (PDF). Little Rock: Arkansas State Highway Commission. pp. 199, 868. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  4. ^ Wood, Ron (April 23, 2014). "First Section of Bella Vista Bypass Opened: New I-49 Signs Going Up on Old I-540". Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  5. ^ Souza, Kim (June 15, 2020). "I-49 widening to six lanes should be complete by late summer". Talk Business & Politics. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  6. ^ Arkansas State Highway Commission (November 17, 1998). "Minutes of the Meeting" (PDF). Little Rock: Arkansas State Highway Commission. p. 1205. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Arkansas State Highway Commission (November 17, 1999). "Minutes of the Meeting" (PDF). Little Rock: Arkansas State Highway Commission. p. 1411. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Vitrano, Amy (November 10, 2014). "New section of I-49 opens, connects Shreveport to Texarkana". KTBS-TV. KTBS-TV. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Bailey, Spencer (May 12, 2023). "ARDOT announces exit numbers changing on I-49". Rogers, Arkansas: KNWA-TV. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  10. ^ "Arkansas Highway 549 To Open To Traffic Wednesday". Associated Press. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  11. ^ "First Section of Bella Vista Bypass Now Open". Arkansas Matters. Little Rock, Arkansas: KARK-TV. April 22, 2014. Archived from the original on December 7, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  12. ^ "New Portion Of I-49 Bypass Complete In Bella Vista". May 10, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  13. ^ McClintock, Kevin (October 15, 2019). "Final phase of Bella Vista Bypass under construction". Joplin Globe. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Barker, Kimberly (March 30, 2021). "Missouri's section of Bella Vista Bypass scheduled for completion in fall". Joplin Globe. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  15. ^ Gill, Todd (October 1, 2021). "I-49 Bella Vista bypass now complete". Fayetteville Flyer. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  16. ^ Wood, Ron (September 30, 2021). "Decades-long Bella Vista Bypass project opens today". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  17. ^ a b c d e Marney, Meridith (July 14, 2015). "Leaders Dedicate Highway 549 At Chaffee Crossing". KFSM-TV. KFSM-TV. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Suhr, Robert (July 23, 2021). "Plans For I-49 extension in River Valley move ahead". 4029 News. KHBS-TV. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  19. ^ Dale, Tina Alvey (October 13, 2022). "Officials break ground on the next section of I-49". Talk Business & Politics. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  20. ^ Claybrook, Emma (October 14, 2022). "ARDOT broke ground on I-49 expansion in Barling". 4029 News. KHBS-TV. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  21. ^ Gladden, Alex (March 18, 2022). "Some opposition heard on plans for Interstate 49". Southwest Times Record. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  22. ^ Wood, Ron (January 12, 2022). "Site work expected to begin on I-49 extension to Barling in the Fall". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  23. ^ Smith, Jacob (October 10, 2022). "Future Interstate 49 to break ground in Barling". KNWA FOX24. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  24. ^ Williams, Rachel (October 14, 2022). "Arkansas officials break ground on I-49 expansion in Barling". Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  25. ^ "ARDOT announces next phase of River Valley I-49 extension underway". KNWA FOX24. July 20, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  26. ^ Bell, Andrew (August 6, 2022). "On the road to completion: First step to I-49 connection between Fort Smith, Texarkana to begin in 2024". Texarkana Gazette. Retrieved May 6, 2023.
  27. ^ Rosa, Jeff Della (25 May 2023). "ArDOT to release findings on proposed $250M highway west of I-49". Talk Business & Politics. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  28. ^ Route and Section Maps (Map). Little Rock: Arkansas Department of Transportation. December 30, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  29. ^ Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Planning and Research Division (2014). State Highway Map (Map) (2014–15 ed.). Little Rock: Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. §§ A2–D2, H2–J2.
  30. ^ Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (n.d.). Map of Proposed I-49 (Map). Little Rock: Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. Sheets 1, 2, and 3 (PDF). {{cite map}}: External link in |sheets= (help) Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  31. ^ "Re: I-49 in Arkansas". AARoads Forum. January 25, 2022. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  32. ^ Trace, Michael (January 25, 2022). I 49 BVB Northbound. Retrieved February 20, 2022 – via YouTube.
  33. ^ Trace, Michael (January 25, 2022). I 49 BVB Southbound. Retrieved February 20, 2022 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ "In-person Public Comment Meeting Regarding Proposed Improvements to I-49/Hwy. 62 Interchange". Arkansas Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  35. ^ Staff (July 21, 2022). "Stephen Carr Memorial Boulevard signs installed on Interstate 49". KFSM-TV. Retrieved July 22, 2022.
  36. ^ Caraway, Steve (July 3, 2014). "Springdale's Tyson Interchange to Open Month Early: Work Will Create Easy Access to Ballpark Development Area". Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  37. ^ Gilker, Kathryn (May 10, 2017). "New Portion Of I-49 Bypass Complete In Bella Vista". 5 News Online. Fort Smith, Arkansas: KFSM-TV. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c d Roberts, Adam (May 14, 2023). "Four I-49 exit numbers to change in Benton County". KHBS. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  39. ^ a b c d Wood, Ron (May 16, 2023). "Exit numbers changing on Interstate 49 in Bella Vista". Arkansas Online. Retrieved May 17, 2023.

External links

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