Patrick Tuttle, director of Visit Joplin (MO), and Aaron Mullins, director of communications and marketing for Visit Bentonville (AR), exchange respective visitor guides across the border following a ceremony on September 30, opening a new section of Interstate 49. This connector links Missouri and Arkansas, and the two communities of Joplin and Bentonville.
Earlier, governors Mike Parson of Missouri and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas formerly dedicated what is called the Missouri-Arkansas connector. Arkansas, Missouri, and federal transportation officials have discussed the necessity of the I-49 Missouri-Arkansas Connector for more than 25 years. This roadway is a part of Interstate 49 and established as a high priority corridor. The completion of this project links 265 miles of Interstate between Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.
Construction consisted of six projects totaling over $220 million beginning in February 2011.
On the Missouri side, the $70.3 million portion of the project relocated the four-lane divided highway to the west of the existing US Route 71 and includes a new interchange at Route 90 west of Jane. This was funded, in part, by a $25 million federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.
Tuttle commented, “This improved highway section will allow for safer and more timely travel for guests visiting Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas.” Mullins added, “The improved connectivity to both regions will assure a continued economic impact for all communities along the corridor.”