The shortest Interstate x0, Interstate 30 joins the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area with Texarkana and Little Rock, Arkansas. The section of Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth was once a tollway known as the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike; however, it is no longer tolled. Interstate 30 was opened through Fort Worth in 1964.6
The origins of the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike can be traced back to 1953 when the Texas Toll Authority was formed. This organization was given the responsibility to oversee toll road construction conducted by private parties. In 1954, construction began on the first tolled facility in the Lone Star State, the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike. The limited-access highway opened to traffic in 1957 at a cost of $59 million.4
The highway did not come without compromise however. To sell the idea to the city of Arlington, an east-west connection to Grand Prairie was required. This was accomplished by constructing Texas 303, the Pioneer Parkway, which was completed in 19606.
Also tangled in the politics of the turnpike was the 1950s routing of Interstate 20 in south Arlington. The support garnered from the city of Arlington helped lead the highway to travel through southern reaches of the municipality, which was then rural in nature. Completed several decades later, the routing of Interstate 20 through the southern portion of the metropolitan area has added to the economic prosperity of the city.3
The turnpike bonds were paid off 17 years ahead of schedule; as a result, the turnpike was turned over to the state.2 The 32-mile highway transitioned from a tollway to a free highway in 1978.5 Interstate 30 is the only Interstate highway in Texas to have been tolled; all of the current toll highway projects are not proposed Interstate routes.
Plenty of construction is underway for Interstate 30, especially in the vicinity of Texarkana, Arkansas. Since Texarkana is near the routings of the future Interstate 49 and Interstate 69, many highway improvements are underway in that region.
One such improvement in the Texarkana area is the construction of a new travel plaza (welcome center/rest area) near the Mandeville interchange. This project replaces the existing facility situated between the Jefferson Avenue (Exit 1) and Arkansas 245 (Exit 2) interchanges. The location east of Arkansas 245 of the new travel information center will allow it to serve both Interstate 30 and future Interstate 49 inbound motorists. This was completed in 2004.
Additionally in the Texarkana area, two interchanges are planned for modification. The Jefferson Avenue and Arkansas 245 diamond interchanges currently have narrow, two-lane bridges that cross over the freeway. For Arkansas 245, this bridge is situated at the north end of a divided, multi-lane freeway. Thus, Arkansas 245 will be widened to four lanes through the Exit 2 interchange. Traffic lights will be installed at the end of the Interstate 30 off-ramps to the state highway. A similar widening of the Jefferson Avenue overpass is slated as well. These projects will go to bid for construction in 2004.
Further in the future is the eventual Interstate 49 extension to Interstate 30. These two interchange modifications are a stop-gap solution to existing safety issues. Plans meanwhile will go forward to either replace or supplement the loop with a future Interstate 49 interchange at Interstate 30. The freeway that will ultimately carry Interstate 49 will open from Texarkana to Fouke in 2004 (although it may be signed as Interstate 130 or U.S. 71 until Interstate 49 is extended north from Shreveport). An extension southward to Doddridge will open to traffic by late 2004 or early 2005. The $29.8 million contract to pave this section was let by highway officials in late 2003.7
Between Benton and Little Rock, Interstate 30 was converted to three lanes in each direction. As of March 2006, three lanes were complete and open to traffic between Milepost 120 (east of the Congo Road interchange in Benton) east to Geyer Springs Road in Little Rock. Improvements at the Interstate 30 and Interstate 430 interchange in 2006 include an additional merge lane added to the onramp from the eastbound service road onto northbound Interstate 430 east of the Otter Creek/Mabelvale West exit. The merge lane continues onto northbound Interstate 430 over Interstate 30. The bridge at Interstate 430 was widened to allow two northbound lanes over Interstate 30.
Interstate 30 may be extended northeast along the U.S. 67 corridor through north-central Arkansas into Missouri via Searcy, Newport, Pocahontas, Poplar Bluff, Farmington, and Festus to St. Louis . If constructed in this manner, presumably Interstate 30 would connect with U.S. 60, the future Interstate 66 corridor, and the current southern terminus of Interstate 57 via U.S. 60 east. In fact, a new spur route (Interstate 730) is proposed between Swifton and Jonesboro in anticipation that U.S. 67 would be renumbered as Interstate 30. According to the Poplar Bluff Daily American Republic, "If U.S. 67 is four-laned all the way to St. Louis, it likely would become part of an extended Interstate 30, which now runs from Dallas to North Little Rock."8
However, the Missouri Department of Transportation and Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department have not reached a consensus that U.S. 67 should designated as Interstate 30; some believe that this lamed corridor could instead become a southern extension of Interstate 57. Interstate 57 would seem a more logical choice in the sense that it is a north-south route, whereas Interstate 30 is more east-west. However, Interstate 30 parallels U.S. 67 for its entire length, so perhaps extending Interstate 30 to the northeast along U.S. 67 to St. Louis is appropriate. Only time will tell what ultimate designation any freeway might have between Charleston and Little Rock via U.S. 60 and U.S. 67. Of course, first someone has to finish the freeway between these two cities!
John Price indicates that the U.S. 67-167/Jacksonville Freeway is undergoing reconstruction in 2004-2005. Plans involve widening this freeway to three lanes on each side with additional crossover overpasses and underpasses. Once the crossover overpasses and underpasses are complete, traffic on the west and east service roads will be changed to one-way. The west service road will be changed to move traffic southbound, and the east service road will be changed to move traffic northbound. A new crossover underpass is partially constructed at mile marker 2. Recently, all traffic on U.S. 67/167 was shifted to the newly constructed half of this new underpass. This portion of the underpass will eventually contain three sound bound lanes. The northbound lanes of the bridge are next to be constructed. At Exit 1 (McCain Blvd.), a new loop overpass has been constructed north of the McCain Blvd. overpass to allow the southbound traffic on the west service road (Warden Road) to loop around to the east service road (Landers Road) without having to use the McCain Blvd. bridge and having to negotiate two sets of traffic lights on each side of the freeway at McCain. The loop ramp bridge is presently complete but not open to traffic.
In 2003 on U.S. 67 at Newport, Arkansas, construction began on the continuation of the freeway to the northeast. A new overpass has been constructed at Arkansas 18, where the freeway currently ends at a three-way stop. In the distance, one can see at least one additional overpass. The new road appears to curve to the east somewhat. In Summer 2004, the overpass at Arkansas 18 was not paved or open. Traffic is diverted on a temporary alignment for Arkansas 18. Traffic in both directions cross under the closed overpass.9
Meanwhile, the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce has requested the Interstate 730 designation for the stretch of Arkansas 226, a secondary connector route between the U.S. 67 freeway and the Future Interstate 555/U.S. 63 freeway in Jonesboro.
Current plans called for two-lane Arkansas 226 to be upgraded to four lanes, and the chamber of commerce has requested that the corridor be freeway-grade, thus providing a direct link from Jonesboro to Little Rock and points southwesterly from there.
This designation has not been approved by AASHTO, and since it would connect to a future extension of Interstate 30 that has not yet been designated, it is unlikely that Interstate 730 will be a reality any time soon.1
In Texas, Interstate 30 was an original Interstate Highway, and it was approved by the Texas State Highway Commission in 1962 with 240 miles.11 The 32-mile Dallas-Fort Turnpike was added to Interstate 30 in 1978.
Interstate 30 between University Avenue and Sevier Street in Benton was originally built as a two-lane road in the early 1950s. What is now Arkansas 5 was the original alignment for U.S. 67 and U.S. 70 between Benton and Little Rock. Arkansas 5 between Benton and Hot Springs was the original U.S. 70 route and U.S. 67 twisted away from the present day Interstate 30 to cross the Saline River on West South Street in Benton. This road eventually twists back to the Interstate 30 exit for U.S. 67 to Haskell.
Interstate 30 between University Avenue and Benton is often called "New Benton Highway," and this road replaced the current Arkansas 5 between Benton and Little Rock. According to a 1961 road map of Arkansas, Interstate 30 was in service from Benton to University Avenue in Little Rock. All of Interstate 30 from University Avenue into Little Rock and all of Interstate 40 was under construction in 1961.
Some maps even label University Avenue to the Asher Avenue/Colonel Glenn Road intersection as being part of "New Benton Highway." For many years, this section of University Avenue had a concrete surface and markings that resembled the interstate, but University Avenue had and still has at-grade intersections with traffic lights for its entire length. Beyond the Asher Avenue/Colonel Glenn Road intersection, University Avenue resembles a typical downtown divided boulevard. Richard Brittain writes:
On your I-30 page, you refer to the fact that University Avenue in Little Rock from Asher/Colonel Glenn to I-30 was once also called the "New Benton Highway", but then discount it. Not only is that true, but in fact that section of University was built at the same time as what is now I-30 from University to Benton. Originally, US 67-70 ran along the "Old Benton Highway", now AR 5, on what is now Colonel Glenn (long used for AR 300 west of Stagecoach and the county road beyond, that name was extended east along Asher to University just a few years ago) to Stagecoach and then on to Benton. The original 2-lane "New Benton Highway" was built in the mid-1950's along what is now southbound University and westbound I-30; the eastbound & northbound lanes were added shortly thereafter, before most of it was upgraded to I-30 circa 1961. The original continuous concrete surface from I-30 east to University north was still visible right up to the reconstruction of I-30 in the 2000's. Now, the only visible sign of the old I-30/University connection is the service road which begins next to southbound University at Forbing Road; it still curves as it did next to the original 2-lane "New Benton Highway" as it moved from University south to I-30 west. The University name (which was first applied to the section north of Asher, originally named Hayes Street after the 19th President, in 1957) displaced "New Benton Highway" on the Asher/I-30 section in the 1970's, but it remained on I-30 beyond there until the city of Little Rock insisted that it be called I-30 in the mid-1980's.
John Price shares a few of his observations of Interstate 30 in Arkansas. Interstate 30 from Exit 133 Geyer Springs road to the Sevier Street exit in Benton has been under construction starting in 2002. This approximately 20-mile section involves upgrading several bridges and widening the freeway to three lanes in both directions. The University Avenue exit at mile marker 132 has been completely transformed with the addition of a eastbound on ramp and a westbound off ramp that will soon open (2005). Originally, this exit had only a eastbound off ramp and a westbound on ramp with one dangerous intersection. The entire interchange with University Avenue is different from the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1990s, this interchange was modified with a one mile extension of University Avenue south of the interstate.
In the late 1990s, the upgrade project of Interstate 30 began with the addition of more overpasses that would provide additional crossovers for the future transformation of Interstate 30 access roads that parallel the freeway from University Avenue in Little Rock to Benton from two-way traffic to one-way traffic. The south access road traffic flow was transformed to parallel the eastbound traffic. The north access road was transformed to parallel the westbound traffic. Several exit on and off ramps are being modified to allow the left lane of the access road to end on approach to an off ramp. A yield sign still exists for traffic approaching the offramp but only in one direction.
At the Baseline Road/Mabelvale Pike exit, a completely new underpass was constructed to allow Baseline Road to go under the interstate. This underpass was built to eliminate a two-way section of the south access road between Baseline Road and Mabelvale Pike. The Mabelvale Pike overpass was also widened. Several other overpasses between University Avenue in Little Rock and the Sevier Street in Benton were replaced or realigned. Some of these interchanges received additional loops off the service roads to eliminate left turns onto crossover roads.9
Arkansas Road Factoids
John Price adds some additional facts about the Interstate System in Arkansas:
Interstate 30's original name in Downtown Little Rock was "The Little Rock Expressway" from the Arkansas River to University Avenue.
Interstate 630's original name before being named for "Sen. Wilbur Mills" was "The 8th Street Expressway."
Interstate 430 was informally called that "West Belt Freeway" and sometimes "Rockefeller Highway" before it was named in 2004 as the "Purple Heart Highway."
Interstate 440 in Little Rock is often referred on maps as the "East Belt Freeway."
Interstate 40 in Arkansas was named the "Veterans Memorial Highway."
The U.S. 67/167 freeway in central Arkansas is often called "The Jacksonville Freeway" because this road originally ended in Jacksonville at the Air Base Exit for the Little Rock Air Force Base. This freeway continues today to Newport.
In Western Arkansas, I-540 between I-40 and Bentonville is named the "John Paul Hammerschmidt Freeway" in honor of northwest Arkansas's former U.S. Representative.
There are no warning signs or other notifications along westbound Interstate 30 of the pending junction with Interstate 20. Instead, the freeway approaches the overpass carrying the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 over Interstate 30. Photos taken by Robert Lee (06/02/06).
The zero milepost sits under the Interstate 20 overpass. After this point, Interstate 30 west merges onto Interstate 20 west, thus marking the end of Interstate 30. In typical Texas fashion, there is no END shield for Interstate 30 west. Photo taken by Robert Lee (06/02/06).
Perspective from Interstate 20 east
Four lanes of Interstate 20 push eastward toward the split with Interstate 30 at Exit 421. The Interstate segment to Interstate 820 predates the Interstate 20 segment to the same highway by a number of years. Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth has been around since the 1960s as the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike. Photos taken by Justin Cozart (09/02) and Robert Lee (06/02/06).
Now within one half mile of the Interstate 20/30 split, the first Interstate 30 interchange is Exit 3A/B with the Jim Wright Freeway - Interstate 820. Otherwise Interstate 30 is designated the East-West Freeway as it enters Fort Worth. Photos taken by Justin Cozart (09/02) and Robert Lee (06/02/06).
Interstate 30 eastbound begins as Interstate 20 branches to the southeast to bypass the city of Fort Worth. Interstate 30 will reach downtown Fort Worth in 14 miles and the city of Dallas in 40 miles. Interstate 20 enters the city limits of Forth Worth in ten miles. Photos taken by Justin Cozart (09/02) and Robert Lee (06/02/06).
Interstate 30 eastbound as it crosses the Arkansas River and leaves the city limits of Little Rock for North Little Rock. The first of two interchanges for North Little Rock is with U.S. 70 at Exit 141B. The Interstate 30 pull-through panel now features Junction Interstate 40. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The final exits of Interstate 30 are that of Exit 143A/B for Interstate 40. This image shows the 1.25-mile guide sign for the final interchange. Exit 142 of 15th Street serves North Little Rock. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The previous set of signs featured button copy lettering and borders. Additionally the new reflective signage installation included the dismantling of the highway lighting fixtures and supports. Vidcap taken by 05/30/95.
The three eastbound (actually heading due north) lanes of Interstate 30 approach Interstate 40. The middle lane is available for both west and eastbound Interstate 40, while the outside lanes are exit-only. U.S. 65, 67, and 167 are all overlapped with Interstate 30 at this point. U.S. 65 departs via Interstate 40 west while the U.S. 67/167 family turn northward for two miles on Interstate 40 eastbound. Note the speed limit of 60 miles per hour for this final section of Interstate 30 as it travels north. Top photo by Steve Hanudel (08/18/05); bottom photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The last sign bridge of Exit 143 before Interstate 30 branches into east and westbound ramps to Interstate 40. Eastward, Interstate 40 travels to the city of Memphis in 132 miles. U.S. 67/167 share a freeway from North Little Rock northeastward to Searcy and Newport. This freeway is touted as a potential extension of Interstate 57. Top photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/18/05); Bottom photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
This photo shows the previous set of overheads and lighting assemblies present on the sign bridge depicted in the above photobox. Vidcap taken 05/30/95.
Interstate 40 Arkansas shields, posted at the gore point of Exit 143A/B. Traffic continuing westward will see the marriage of U.S. 65 and Interstate 40 endure until Exit 125 at Conway, a distance of 28 miles. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/18/05).
The proximity of Arkansas 107 to the fold allows for an independent ramp from Interstate 30 west/U.S. 65 north. The north-south highway connects North Little Rock with Sherwood and Macon. Traffic otherwise will merge onto Interstate 40 ahead. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/19/02).
Perspective from Interstate 40 west
This mileage sign, 14 miles to the east of downtown Little Rock, is the first indication of the upcoming Interstate 30 terminal interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Just after the merge of U.S. 67/167 southbound onto Interstate 40 westbound at the North Hills Boulevard overpass (Exit 154) is this set of signs for the pending split of Interstate 30 west from Interstate 40 west. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The westbound beginning of Interstate 30 departs Interstate 40 from the left as Exit 153. U.S. 67/167 depart as well, as U.S. 65 takes their place with Interstate 40 westbound. Hazardous Cargo is prohibited from traveling the downtown Little Rock area freeways. Traffic continuing westward will reach Fort Smith in 150 miles. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/19/02).
A warmer and sunny view of the Exit 153 departure of Interstate 30 westbound from Interstate 40 west. The interchange between the two highways is a tri-level stack interchange. Situated nearby is Exit 153A for John F. Kennedy Drive (Arkansas 107). Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The first westbound Interstate 30 reassurance shield as seen from the Interstate 40 westbound mainline. The first interchange of Interstate 30 is Exit 142 with East 15th Street in North Little Rock. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 40 east
Just outside the Little Rock metropolitan area is this mileage sign with the first indication of Interstate 30 from the west. This sign is five miles west of the northern terminus of Interstate 430, the next eastbound interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 40 eastbound at Exit 153A/Arkansas 107 - John F. Kennedy Drive, just west of the Interstate 30 terminal interchange and split with U.S. 65 south. Arkansas 107 sees its northbound beginning here and travels northward to Sherwood and Little Rock Airbase. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Exit 153B for the westbound beginning of Interstate 30 departs from Interstate 40 east. There are four more North Little Rock interchanges along Interstate 40 in the next five miles. Interstate 30 meanwhile enters downtown Little Rock in three miles. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
"Chamber plans D.C. visit to discuss area's concerns." Jonesboro Sun, February 15, 2003.