ArDOT kicks off $310M in road projects in Benton, Washington counties

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 5,733 views 

Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Springdale Northern Bypass and Northwest Arkansas National Airport connector projects.

Northwest Arkansas will add about 11 miles of interstate-style freeway to the region when nearly $310 million in highway projects are completed over the next three years.

On Wednesday (April 17), Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) officials and area leaders gathered at Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) in Highfill to break ground on phase two of the Springdale Northern Bypass and a connecting road from the bypass to XNA. Combined, the contract values of the two projects exceed $308.46 million.

“Both of these projects represent a total cost of $410 million,” said ArDOT Director Lorie Tudor. “Of that is right-of-way, design and construction. Construction is $310 million, so that just gives you an idea of how much it costs to get a project ready to break ground on.”

On Nov. 6, Tudor awarded phase two of the Springdale Northern Bypass, or Highway 612, to Columbia, Mo.-based Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. for $180.78 million, the second-largest contract ArDOT has awarded. The nearly 7-mile project will extend Highway 612 from Highway 112 to U.S. Highway 412 in Tontitown. The interstate-style, four-lane freeway will include 16 bridges and three interchanges, including one for the XNA connector. This phase, the second of four, is expected to be completed in July 2026 and has one more bridge and interchange than the first phase, which runs from Interstate 49 to Highway 112.

Tudor said funding for the second and other bypass phases will come from sales tax revenue from the half-cent sales tax that voters made permanent in 2020. The third phase, from I-49 to Highway 265, is being developed, and construction is expected to start in early 2026. The fourth phase from Highway 265 to Highway 412 east of Springdale is also being developed, and construction will start when money becomes available.

“When the entire bypass is completed, it will be 21 miles long for a cost of about $1 billion,” Tudor said. “It will relieve the major congestion that this region has experienced and allow for safer travel through the area.”

On Jan. 21, Tudor awarded the XNA connector, or access road project, to Columbus, Kan.-based Crossland Construction Co. for $127.67 million. The nearly 4-mile project will connect Highway 612 to Highway 264 at XNA’s south entrance. The interstate-style, four-lane highway will include an interchange at Highway 264 and 11 bridges, including lengthy bridges over Osage Creek. It’s expected to be completed in the summer of 2027.

“When complete, these two new sections of highway will improve traffic flow for the growing Northwest Arkansas region, providing safe, modernized roadways,” Tudor said. “These projects would not have been possible without assistance and partnership from our U.S. Congressional Delegation, including (Sen. John) Boozman (R-Ark.) and (Rep. Steve) Womack (R-Rogers), the XNA Airport Authority and the city of Springdale.”

Tudor noted that the legislators helped ArDOT receive about $7 million in federal money for the XNA connector project. She added that the city of Springdale provided ArDOT with a $550,000 easement for project right-of-way.

Philip Taldo of Springdale, vice chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, added that in 1998, when former Gov. Asa Hutchinson was a U.S. representative in Congress, Hutchinson identified $16 million for planning and development for the XNA access road project. ArDOT officials also credited Hutchinson with his support of the permanent extension of the half-cent sales tax, which supports highway projects.