Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Coming of 612

Sometime in late 2018, ARDOT will open the first section of the US 412 Bypass around Springdale.  The first section, approximately 4 1/2 miles will run from AR 112 near Cave Springs to I-49 near Lowell. The only reason it's being built first is because the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) wants to build a private toll road from the bypass to the airport.

According to ARDOT the new highway will be designated AR 612, to be replaced eventually by US 412 once the bypass is complete sometime in 2019.

Of course, construction also continues on AR 549/Future I-49 northwest of Bentonville. ARDOT recently announced plans to begin building the other 2 lanes from US 71at Bentonville to Benton County 34/ Rocky Dell Hollow Rd near Bella Vista. That would leave roughly 5 miles to be completed to the Missouri State Line, then 5 more miles to Pineville, Missouri connecting with the other section of I-49.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Price of Progress

File this under "the price of progress". I've just returned from a trip to Alexandria, Louisiana. I've been seeking out "lost" segments of the old Jefferson Highway and early segments of US 71.
Sticking primarily with US 71, I did stray over to I-49 a couple times.

North of Shreveport, there have been a few "pop-up" gas stations and convenience stores. Nothing special: just a place to get gas or use the restroom. I used to frequent one in Ida called Crossroads Food Mart. 

I noticed the store has closed, probably two or three years ago. It was always a little run down looking, but now it looks ready for the bulldozer.

I did notice a "new" truck stop at I-49 at Mira. Likely two or three years old. Looks nice outside, but the restrooms are already looking beat up. Probably a combination of heavy use and the owner not wanting to spend the money to maintain them.

I guess this is "progress": everything on the old road dies off, but new businesses show up on the new road. It happened when US 66 was replaced, it will likely happen again if/when I-49 gets completed in Arkansas (Casey's General Store is already building a new store at US 71 and Future I-49 south of Fort Smith).

Saturday, November 11, 2017

91 Years

The US Highway System turned 91 today.  US 71, US 66, US 70 and a host of others replaced the Auto Trails such as Jefferson Highway, Ozark, Trail, Lincoln Highway.

The AASHO (American Association of Highway Officials) had actually approved the numbering as far back as March or April 1926, but they system wasn't officially rolled out until November 11.

There have been a lot of changes in 91 years: 66 is gone as is US 666, half of US 80 has been decommissioned, US 425 and US 278 have been added (among others) and many routes have changed alignments.  US 71 used to cross the Atchafalaya River at Melville, Louisiana and continued to Baton Rouge, but was cut back in the 1950's. US 371 went from being a Minnesota Highway (now MN 371) to an Arkansas-Louisiana Highway.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Arkansas Speed Limits

ARDOT & the Arkansas Highway Commission are wanting feedback for proposed changes to highway speed limits.

You have until December 13 to express your opinion.

It's a lot of technical gobbledy gook, but boils down to the following

Rural Interstates – 75 miles per hour (mph)

Urban Interstates – 65 mph

Rural Multi-Lane Highways – 65 mph, unless an engineering study determines the need for a lower speed limit.

Other Rural Highways – 55 mph, with the option to increase the speed limit to 60 mph on individual highways where an engineering study determines that a higher speed limit is warranted.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

At the Sign Shop

Future I-57 signs at the ARDOT sign shop

I was half expecting I-57 signs (as opposed to "future 57), but I guess there is one more step in the bureaucracy before official approval, unless they're waiting on Missouri? 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Coming of I-57

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has given its approval to designate Interstate 57 in Arkansas from I-40 at North Little Rock to US 412 at Walnut Ridge.. Eventually, it is expected to connect with I-57 near Sikeston, Missouri...eventually, even though there is no money to build it.  But because one US Senator from Arkansas wanted it, it will (maybe) eventually happen (kind of like I-99)

My 2 pfennigs: it's not needed. For now 57 will completely overlap US 67, so the only thing that will happen is ARDOT's limited budget will be stretched thinner when it has to manufacture and post signs. Plus, given their dislike for posting multiple routes, US 67 (and US 167 and US 64) will likely "disappear".  This really won't improve anything. It's just a waste of money: something Congress knows a lot about/

Friday, October 06, 2017


In case you missed it, AHTD is no more. On July 31, 2017 the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department became the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT).

New name, new Twitter handle ( @myardot ) but from my perspective, it's all superficial....same song, different dance.

WTF 220?

I took a little time today to check on the status of the AR 220 upgrade north of Lee Creek (widening, straightening, paving). Everything in Crawford County is finished, but the pavement still drops off when you cross into Washington County. It's just a wide, unsigned, unmarked gravel road...same as it was when I visited in the Spring. However, in Crawford County the road is beginning to show signs of wear and has been patched in several places.

OK, two different contractors. The company who worked on the Crawford County section cut may have cut corners (figuratively and literally) to get the job done. The company working on Washington County, appears to be in no big hurry to finish. They are supposed to finish by the end of the year. I wonder if they will?

Mind you, I'm not pleased that ARDOT (formerly AHTD) is destroying the countryside to widen the road, but at least get the thing done?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Texas Observations

I've seen this many times before, but am just now recording my observations.
Texas uses different designs for their route markers depending on if it's free standing signage or expressway signage.

Texas State Route Signs have the Route Number with TEXAS at the bottom

Freeway signs, however, have the state name THEN the number

Of course, Farm Road signage is totally different:

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Author! Author!

I am now a published author (sort of). Encyclopedia of Arkansas has accepted my submission on US 71 in Arkansas. I really had to boil it down to attract a wider interest, since I could (and maybe someday will) write a "great American novel" about the road. I even learned more about the road while I was doing my research. 

It was one of the easiest, yet hardest things I've done. I had the knowledge, but struggled to put it into words on paper. 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I Told You So!

I hate to say "I told you so", but I told you so. While AHTD has opened the new US 70 Broadway Bridge, a lot of finishing work is still going on. The most recent was reopening the ramp from US 70 to AR 10 where AHTD tweeted their triumph along with a photo of the ramp:

But wait: something doesn't look right. Does that sign say US 10? Yes, it does.

Of course, AHTD didn't catch the error until I reported it to them, but they initially insisted there was nothing wrong . It really should look like the Hwy 10 below:

*sigh* You just can't get good help these days. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I've been promising for months to start posting again. Today's the day (I hope).

Let's see if I can do a Readers Digest of some of the news:

  • AR 220 is still being destroyed upgraded between Lee Creek and Devil's Den State Park. Almost everything in Crawford County is finished, but Washington County still has a ways to go. The dirt work is finished, but the road is mostly gravel with a couple bridges still under construction. I'm guessing they will finish sometime this Summer.

  • Nearby. the AR 59 bridge over Lee Creek at Natural Dam is in the process of being replaced. The old bridge will be moved to Fort Chaffee for use as a pedestrian bridge.

  • AR 549 (Future I-49) is expected to open at Bella Vista sometime in April. It will only be two lanes for now and will connect to current I-49 via a Roundabout.  IMO, that's going to be a major headache, but what do I know? Eventually, it will be rebuilt as a full interchange after MoDOT starts working on their section of I-49 maybe in 2020

  • The new US 70 Broadway Bridge has opened over the Arkansas River about a month ahead of time. The contractor will receive a hefty bonus for finishing early. I hope he didn't cut any corners.

  • In the meantime, US 71 continues to slowly wash away near Artist's Point north of Mountainburg. The pavement is badly cracked and parts of the roadbed have shifted. Of course, AHTD has no money to fix things, but has just enough to build new roads (like the 412 Bypass at Sprigdale).

  • I-49 is being widened to 3-lanes between Fayetteville and Bella Vista, but many drivers don't seem to know they can use the far left lane for speeding as a fast lane.

  • AHTD is in the process of rebuilding the I-49/Business 71/AR 112 interchanges in Fayetteville, eliminating the harsh corves (which they should have done 30 years ago when they first built it. Never enough money to do it right the first time.

  • ODOT has eliminated the Tri-State signage at the AR-OK state line norht of Maysville. Now it's simply OK 20, except if you're coming from Arkansas where thsi is still no signage beyond a stop sign.

Well, I seem to out of news right now.  Oh wait! I've been approached by Encyclopedia of Arkansas to do an article on the history of US 71 in Arkansas. I thought I knew everything until i got deeper into it. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2017 Already?

I've lost track of time. I was going to keep this thing better updated, but that's not been the case. Life has somehow got in the way.

So, a quick update: two road meets this past year (St Louis and Birmingham). Lots of photos, lots of wishing I had more time to explore, etc. Even found part of the Bankhead Highway east of Tupelo, Mississippi.

Did my annual trek to SE Texas in November and picked up a few more bridges and other items.

The last few weeks I've been researching the history of US 71, going back to its days as a Civil War Trail. Lots of information starting in the early 1900's, but lots of blank spots further back that I am trying to piece together, also lots of conflicting information.

I'm on Twitter and Instagram now, but still posting more of my photos on Flickr.

Eventually, maybe I'll get back to posting regularly.