Saturday, January 26, 2013

Improving I-540

AHTD recently announced plans to improve Interstate 540 between I-40 at Van Buren and Hwy 22 in Fort Smith. Plans call for widening the shoulders, reconstructing the pavement, reconstruction or renovation of nine bridges (including replacement of the Arkansas River Bridge) and replacing/upgrading existing exit signage (which, if you've driven I-540, you'll know how old and worn some of it looks). 

This will be the first major upgrade on I-540 since the road was originally opened in the mid 1960's, with the exception of the Kelly Highway and Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Road interchanges which were recently renovated (Kelly Highway in 2008, Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Rd in 2012).

According to AHTD, construction is expected to begin around Janoary 28th and is expected to take approximately 153 working days or a year and a half (until July 2014).  OK, just a minute: 153 working days or a year and a half?  This must be "new math". By my calculations, 153 working days would be just under 8 months. I can see allowing a little extra time for bad weather, but 153 days over a year and a half equals about 2 working days a week or 8 1/2 days per month. Is this right? Sure, 540 is is desperate need of renovation, but this timetable seems a bit off.

Another part of thir project will be renumbering the exits along I-540. Currently, they run from Exit 1 at Interstate 40 to Exit 14 at US 271/AR 253.  The proposal is to reverse the numbering to match the exit numbers on the Alma-Bentonville segment.  The "purist" in me disagrees with this.  Since I-540 begins at I-40, the exit numbers should begin at I-40. In a few years, the north leg of I-540 will be Interstate 49: will AHTD then renumber the exits on the south leg again?  What happens when 540 is extended to I-49 south of Fort Smith {proposed only: I've seen no timetable for this, only maps showing a proposed alignment beginning near Hwy 45 (Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Rd Interchange)}

This seems silly to me. Granted most of the exit signs need to be replaced, but why renumber the exits? 

Anyway, I have thrown together a quick guide with the old and new Exit numbers (or my best guess)


1 14
I-40 west – Oklahoma City, OK North 540 joins East 40
2 13
U.S. 64 – Van Buren Signed as Exits 2A (East) and 2B (West)
3 12
Hwy. 59 – Van Buren

Arkansas River Crawford/Sebastian County Line

5 10
Kelley Highway
6 9
Grand Avenue
8 7
Hwy. 22 Rogers Avenue Southbound numbered as 8A (West) and 8B (East)
9 6
 Phoenix Avenue East, Leigh Avenue 
10 5
Hwy. 45 Greenwood Road, Phoenix Avenue West
11 4
Hwy. 255 (Zero Street)
12 3
U.S. 71 South – Texarkana
13 2
Jenny Lind Road
14 1
U.S. 271 North / Hwy. 253 South I-540 Ends/Begins

US-271 continues west into Oklahoma


Dave102 said...

Generally Interstate exit numbers go from west to east or south to north, same as the numbering of the Interstates themselves.

US 71 said...

Actually, spurs and loops are numbered from their origin point, such I-30 for I-530 (numbered north to south)

540 is messed up because of the north extension, yet it will eventually be I-49, so the whole thing is silly to me.