A Faster Trip From Region 8

March 12, 2003
Posted at: 9:00 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, Ark. -- The road to Little Rock or Memphis from Region 8 could become smoother and faster.

"It goes from Little Rock to St. Louis," said Mike Cameron of the Greater Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce, referring to a proposed "Interstate 730" that could run through Region 8.

Cameron is a member of the chamber's Industrial Development Committee. He and other members of the chamber are looking forward to this proposed plan for one of two interstates in the area, making it's way from paper to pavement. The I-730 plans sit on Comeron's office table. It would connect with Interstate 30 in the capital city.

Currently, Highways 226 and 67 are on the way to becoming wider, but not to interstate highway grade.

"What we on the chamber's development committee are asking the highway commission, and our constituents in Washington to help us do is upgrade the Highway 226, widening to interstate status," Cameron said.

Those proposed changes would mean Highway 49 past Gibson wouldn't just be four un-divided lanes, like the current plan now stands. It would become a road with two four lanes, plus a faster ride through Northeast Arkansas. Fifty-five miles per hour would become 70 miles per hour.

I-730 would join I-30 in Little Rock, like the future Interstate 555 will join Interstate 55 to Memphis. Highway department officials say the possible western interstate is only a proposal now. The timeline, according to highway officials, could take up to 15 years.

Cameron and highway officials say we could be rolling on a new interstate from Jonesboro to Memphis in 2-5 years. Faster traffic and wider lanes. Good news for economic development and good news for Region 8 drivers too.