A decades-long goal of creating a bypass on U.S. 412 around the city of Paragould in Greene County to connect into U.S. 49 has finally become a reality. State workers have completed a 5.2 mile stretch of two-lane highway. The project cost $12.8 million and work on the roadway began in 2017.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, members of the Arkansas Highway Commission and others attended a ribbon cutting Friday (Oct. 9) at the bypass.
The bypass will relieve severe traffic congestion that has plagued the second largest city in Northeast Arkansas for decades. It will also improve traffic to and from Jonesboro.
The project is a piece of a larger goal to create a major highway that connects all of northern Arkansas from Springdale to Paragould.
There are five designated corridors from Springdale to Paragould along U.S. 412. The total construction costs for all five are estimated to be $1.317 billion for the 173.9 mile route, according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
The longest corridor is from Bellefonte to Ash Flat, and the most costly is the Springdale northern bypass which could cost $492 million. Those cost projections are based on 2014 estimates, and would likely be much higher by the time the projects are completed.
A study was conducted in the late 1990s which indicated the economic impact would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year, but it’s been 20 years since that study was conducted, according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation. A new study is probably needed, officials have said.
The highway is curvy, and often two-laned in many stretches from Springdale to Harrison. There is a long stretch from Harrison to Mountain Home where the road is two-laned, and then there are other stretches along the route that are sporadically three- and four-laned from Mountain Home to Paragould.