BELLA VISTA, Ark. – After decades of planning and 10 years of construction, the highly anticipated Bella Vista bypass officially opened to the public Friday morning.
A ribbon-cutting was held Thursday to celebrate the completion of this project. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, federal and transportation leaders from both states were all in attendance.
Construction on this project started back in February 2011. It consisted of six different projects, costing over $220 million. It was funded mostly from a 10-year, half-cent sales tax. The Bella Vista bypass is a high-priority corridor.
Now, what some are calling the missing link between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, is finally a reality.
“Nothing gives me a better feeling, a warm fuzzy feeling than a nice highway,” said Lorie Tudor, Arkansas Department of Transportation director.
“That really emphasizes to us how important these connectors between the two states are for our commerce for our growth, and for the safety and the enjoyment of our citizens,” Hutchinson said.
The interstate will help reduce traffic and congestion in the region and folks will be able to get around much quicker.
Parson spoke about the importance of states partnering and putting their resources together, adding it is key to the future and building our economies.
“This is going to expand opportunities tremendously. It is going to keep people safe it’s going to help grow our economy, but you also think what this means… that this has been a partnership that has been in the works for over 20 years,” Hutchinson said.
Thousands of people are expected to travel up and down this corridor. It will connect more people together, increase tourism, and essentially lead to more development in both states.
Hutchinson added that investment in infrastructure is key to keeping up with the growth of Northwest Arkansas.