Interstate 49 projects in Benton County still on track

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 4,475 views 

Road work continues on the Bella Vista Bypass north of Bentonville. The bypass interchange is expected to be completed in late 2021.

Work to complete the $66.59 million interchange for the Bella Vista Bypass in Arkansas has continued without delay and should be completed in late 2021.

Dave Parker, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said the estimated completion date is early in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Emery Sapp & Sons of Columbia, Mo., is completing the final two segments of the bypass in Arkansas, including the interchange at U.S. Highway 71 in northern Bentonville and 2.6 miles of the bypass, from Benton County Road 34 to the Missouri state line. The $35.52 million bypass project should be completed late this year. Parker said it’s in the final phase of construction.

Kolb Grading of St. Charles, Mo., is completing an 8.7-mile segment of the northbound lanes of the bypass. The latter work will be completed late this year or early next year, Parker said.

In the spring, the interchange project was delayed for about two weeks because a worker contracted COVID-19.

Asked if COVID has contributed to any more delays, Parker said “there has not been anything of significance develop lately.”

The bypass, or Arkansas-Missouri Connector, will become a part of Interstate 49 when it’s completed. In Missouri, Emery Sapp & Sons earlier this year experienced delays related to COVID and the weather but remains on track to complete the state’s 5-mile segment of the connector, said Greg Chapman, district construction engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“COVID-19 has impacted the job to some extent, but to date, the ESS team has been proactive and has done a good job with contact tracing such that entire crews have not had to be shut down. Hopefully, this will stay the case,” Chapman said. “In addition, early on, weather presented the team with challenges as well. However, the last few months have been extremely dry, which has allowed ESS to catch back up and get back on track.”

The $70.3 million project is expected to be completed in September 2021.

Another I-49 project under construction includes the Exit 85 interchange work, spanning Rogers and Bentonville. Apac-Central Inc. is completing the $26.9 million job. Estimated completion is late summer or early fall 2021, Parker said. On Aug. 14, the related project to widen I-49 there opened to traffic. It was the final segment to be completed in the widening of I-49 to six lanes throughout Northwest Arkansas.