When will Future Interstate 555 Become a Reality?

JUNE 2, 2006 -- POSTED AT 4:00 P.M. CDT  

REGION 8 -- Construction is usually a long process and U.S. Highway 63 is no exception.

"We already have tentative approval for Interstate 555 designation. That is subject to work that we have to do to control the access,"
says Joe Barnett, the District Engineer for the State Highway Department.

They are currently working on five contracts along U.S. 63, between Payneway and Interstate 55. The cost of those five projects totals $70 million dollars, and funding for those projects is secure. Four of the five contracts should be complete by the beginning of next year, and that leaves one more, the interchange at Highway 135 near Lepanto. The project there just began. So, when will all five projects be complete?

"It will take 2-3 years to complete and upon completion of that, we will be able to be eligible for interstate designation," says Barnett.

Once all those projects are finished, will road construction along U.S. 63 come to an end?

"There have been requests for additional frontage roads and overpasses. There is not any other work that is scheduled at this time, but that's still an option if funding becomes available," says Barnett.

As for the headaches this construction is causing motorists, the state highway department says they definitely understand.

"When you're dealing with high volumes of traffic at a reasonably high speed and we have to do construction immediately adjacent to that, there are inconveniences and we recognize that. We would ask the public to bear with this," says Barnett.

Once construction along U.S. 63 is finally complete, the new road will be more than just an interstate. It will provide a passage way for economic growth in Jonesboro and all of Region 8.