ROADS/BRIDGES: Arkansas gives official interstate designation to I-555

March 18, 2016

I-555, a 44-mile-long four-lane highway, received interstate designation nearly 50 years after it was built

Arkansas gave official interstate designation to a 44-mile stretch of road between I-55 Crittenden County and U.S. Highway in the city of Jonesboro.  The move to designate this section of U.S. Highway 63 as the Future I-555 has been in the works for decades but was recently made a reality with an exemption in the FAST Act that means a lot to the farming community in that region of Arkansas.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said the designation is beneficial to both his town and the region. About 32,000 vehicles travel on the highway in Jonesboro, the Highway Department said.

Typically, agricultural vehicles are not allowed to use the interstate—but this exemption allows them to operate on a three-mile stretch, between Payneway and Marked Tree, to avoid a costly 90-mile detour.  With proper signage, other vehicles will know that these farmers are on the road as well to access their fields.   

Arkansas just unveiled the first “Future I-555” sign but all the hard work for the designation has been ongoing since the 1970s, including improvements to bring US 63 to interstate standards.  The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) has spent about $250 million to upgrade the highway and is already well ahead of the required timeline of 25 years to do so under federal rules. 

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