Sunday, January 03, 2016

I-49 Expansion Progresses in Louisiana, Arkansas - I-49 Update

The long term plan is to have a corridor from New Orleans to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - a "Pines to Palms" Interstate. In the 'Palms' area, the section connecting Shreveport to Texarkana opened up November 2014 after 30 years of planning and work. The interstate expansion was promoted by the I-49 International Coalition. When complete the corridor will span 1,700 miles and three states. Green said about 85 percent of that is complete. Construction continues on the 5-mile segment connecting I-49 North to I-220. It should open in 2016 or 2017. 

The primary benefits of I-49 are connecting population centers and economic growth. For every $1 billion in Interstate development, an estimated 49,000 jobs are created. Texarkana is expected soon to be criss-crossed by three interstates - I-30, I-49 and I-69 now being developed in Texas with segments already in Northwestern Mississippi and Tennessee.

I-40 Lafayette to New Orleans
As discussed by this original I-49 extension post, the segment from Lafayette, Louisiana to New Orleans is yet to be completed. Much of the Interstate will follow US 90, a majority of which is already limited access.  The route is important to industry, particularly the petroleum industry. Texarkana, with a population of just 68,000 divided evenly between Texas and Arkansas, is already served by I-30 (itself suggested for extension). Nonetheless, officials see the new Interstate as a boon for economic development

The next southern leg is the one from Texarkana to Fort Smith, AR - a 200-mile stretch estimated estimated to cost $3 billion.  A short leg just south of Fort Smith to Alma, AR has already been designated as I-49. Though short, the segment has already sparked development at Chaffee Crossing near Fort Smith, as discussed in this article

The Arkansas portion represents 315 miles for the full 1,700 mile Palms to Pines highway. 

I-49 is expected have an intersection with the proposed Georgia to Texas Interstate-14, already under way in Texas, in Alexandria, LA.  

Part of this post was pulled from New section of I-49 opens, connects Shreveport to Texarkana.

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