ArDOT studies may lead to new highways

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,826 views 

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) recently hosted multiple public meetings in Northwest Arkansas as part of separate projects that could lead to new highways in the region.

According to information provided by Dave Parker, public information officer for ArDOT, more than 300 people attended the June meetings for the Western North-South Connector Study. About 70 people attended the meeting on the U.S. 412 Planning and Environmental Linkages Study.

In a presentation, ArDOT division engineer Brad McCaleb said the previous study determined a long-term need for a north-south highway between Arkansas highways 112 and 59. The four-lane highway would be built using new and existing roadway segments to create a continuous north-south route and would look like widened sections of Highway 112. He added that no funding is available for the project, and no work is planned for it “in the near future.”

Regarding the latter study, Parker said the recent meeting provided the locations on Highway 412 that do not meet interstate standards. Under the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, the study is part of transforming about 190 miles of the highway into an interstate. This fall, ArDOT will host another meeting on the study regarding strategies to improve Highway 412 to interstate standards between Interstate 35 in Oklahoma and Interstate 49.

Related to this is the work to extend Highway 612, or the Springdale Northern Bypass, from Highway 112 to Highway 412. The segment is included in the project to transform Highway 412 into an interstate.

Jared Wiley, chief engineer of preconstruction for ArDOT, expects work on the extension to go to bid later this year. Also, work on the connector from Highway 612 to Northwest Arkansas National Airport in Highfill is expected to go to bid in early 2024. Wiley said the hope is that construction on the projects will start by summer 2024. The price for both projects is expected to range between $200 million and $300 million.