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Interstate 49

Routing

Envisioned as a nearly 850 mile route from New Orleans to Kansas City, Interstate 49 is currently signed on four distinct segments from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest. The original 208-mile stretch runs north from Lafayette to Shreveport. Subsequent sections are posted from Blanchard, Louisiana north to Texarkana, between Alma and Bentonville, Arkansas, and between Pineville and Grandview, Missouri. Additional sections, all signed as Arkansas 549, include the Bella Vista Bypass section, currently under construction along the south and west sides of Bella Vista, and the Chaffee Crossing section, scheduled to open on July 14, 2015 to the southeast of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Future Interstate 49 corridor signage appears from the southern terminus in Lafayette southeastward via U.S. 90 to New Orleans. Interstate standard upgrading is underway along U.S. 90 near New Iberia and Morgan City, and Interstate 49 will culminate its journey along the Westbank Expressway before terminating at Interstate 10 in Downtown New Orleans. The majority of this section (from Lafayette east to the junction of Interstate 310 and secret Interstate 910) was approved as "Future Interstate 49" by AASHTO's Route Numbering Subcommittee on November 6, 1998. The section between I-310 and I-10 (unsigned I-910) was designated as Future I-49 on October 1, 1999.

High Priority Corridor

Interstate 49 from Shreveport to Kansas City is part of High Priority Corridors 1 and 72: North-South Corridor, while the future section between New Orleans and Lafayette is part of High Priority Corridor 37: U.S. 90.

Future Aspirations

Current construction along Interstate 49 South includes building a railroad overpass along U.S. 90 between Louisiana 85 and 668 in Iberia Parish. Costing $10-15 million, the project should go to bid in 2016. Within Lafayette Parish, a $50-70 million interchange between U.S. 90 at Ambassador Caffery is currently under design through to early 2016. $5-7.5 million frontage road construction from Ambassador Caffery Parkway to Captain Cade Road will be bid upon in 2016/17. Additional frontage roads will be added along side U.S. 90 from Albertson Parkway to Southpark Road starting in 2016/17. Work in St. Mary Parish will add an interchange with U.S. 90 at Louisiana 318, with two-years of construction of the $30-50 million project commencing by early 2016.

Presently Interstate 49 has a gap between Interstate 20 near Downtown Shreveport and Louisiana 1 to the east of Blanchard. Original plans shifted I-49 onto Louisiana 3132 (Inner Loop Expressway) and the western portion of Interstate 220 to bypass Shreveport. However efforts emerged from the city of Shreveport and local officials to build the I-49 Inner City Connector. The Connector is approximately 3.6 miles in length. If built, I-49 would continue north from I-20 along Peter Harris Drive to Ford Street and then northwesterly along Twelvemile Bayou to I-220. A Feasibility Study and Environmental Inventory was completed in May 2010 and currently an Environmental Impact Statement is being prepared.

Otherwise if I-49 shifts to the bypass, the existing segment of Interstate 49 between the symmetrical stack interchange at Louisiana 3132 and Interstate 20 will have to be renumbered. Continuation of I-49 North from I-220 (Segment K) will stem north from a new interchange one mile to the west of the current U.S. 71/Louisiana 1 interchange (Exit 7).1

Work on Segment K, I-49 between I-220 and LA 1 near Blanchard, went to bid in December 2013. This was two years after expected due to funding issues for the $70-100 million project.22,24 It is estimated for completion in 2016-17.25

A half-diamond interchange with U.S. 59 & 71 at the north end of I-49 will eventually connect with a six to eight mile alignment proposed through Bowie County, Texas. This alignment will include an interchange with Interstate 369.

A bridge across the Arkansas River for future Interstate 49, north of AR 22, was estimated to cost $300 million in 2010.

Parcel map showing the path of the Bella Vista Bypass. The road is proposed at 20 miles overall, 15 of which are in Arkansas. A three mile stretch of the super-two freeway, between AR 72 west of Hiwasse and AR 72 south of Hiwasse, opened to traffic in 2014.

A second Bella Vista Bypass project was let May 2, 2012 pertaining to 2.377 miles of two-lane roadway leading north from the AR 72 interchange west of Hiwasse to County Road 34. Work on this section runs through late 2015. A third portion is also underway to extend AR 549 east from AR 72 to U.S. 71 Business in Bella Vista. The 6.36-mile portion is being built at a cost of $52.6-million. It is scheduled for completion in mid-2016.31

The Interstate 49 corridor will not utilize the Missouri 249 and 171 corridor east of Joplin due to the present of traffic signals at the diamond interchange between U.S. 71, Missouri 96 and Missouri 171 south.

However three options for consideration in the long term are:17

  • Retain the Interstates 44 & 49 overlap, but upgrade the cloverleaf interchange at Exit 18 into a directional interchange.
  • Utilize the Missouri 249 and 171 corridor by upgrading the interchange between U.S. 71, Missouri 96 and 171.
  • Utilize the Missouri 249 and 171 corridor by construction a new freeway connection from near Morgan Heights northeast to Interstate 49, bypassing Carthage to the north.

I-49 south from Pineville to Belle Vista was considered for a toll road3, which AHTD is constructing as a two-lane facility in phases over six years as indicated in 2010. Missouri's portion of the bypass received funding in MoDOT's 2013-17 Draft STIP. The right of way is already acquired and plans are ready. MoDOT awaits completion of the Arkansas section to move forward.29

In Kansas City, the U.S. 71 freeway/expressway combination is complete. U.S. 71 (a.k.a. Bruce R. Watkins Drive and/or South Midtown Freeway) is complete between Downtown and the south end of the I-435 loop. It is all Interstate-quality road except for the section between 47th/U.S. 56 and 75th Streets. This section is a parkway with three or four signalized intersections, due to powerful neighborhood associations that objected to a limited access freeway. Missouri DOT designed these intersections so that overpasses and ramps could be added at a later date. This route is now a major commuter route from the southern suburbs, and the signalized intersections create traffic jams during peak hours.6 However, it is unlikely that any of these traffic signals would be removed due to local opposition, so Interstate 49 may not be able to follow U.S. 71 into Kansas City downtown.

History

Interstate 49 was first proposed by Governor John McKeithen as the tolled North-South Expressway in 1965.32 AASHTO approved the initial route of Interstate 49 between Interstate 20 in Shreveport and U.S. 190 at Opelousas on July 6, 1977. Work commenced on I-49 in April 1980, and the first portion opened was a six-mile segment from U.S. 190 east of Opelousas in September 1983.32 An 18-mile section of I-49 was dedicated on October 13, 1987 within Natchitoches Parish between Louisiana 174 and Louisiana 6.33 That was followed by the completion of a nine mile link in DeSoto Parish, from LA 175 to LA 509, on March 1, 1989.33 Another 35 miles debuted to travelers between Washington and Meeker on May 15, 1989, a few weeks beyond the planned April 22nd opening.34

Work progressed with the opening of another 30 miles of Interstate 49 on November 22, 1989. This section included 18 miles from LA 174 to U.S. 84 in DeSoto Parish and 12 miles from Fierson to LA 526 (Industrial Loop) on the south side of Shreveport.35 Another 7.3 miles of I-49 opened around Boyce to the north of Alexandria on September 26, 1991.36 A development during that time period shifted I-49 from a bypass of Alexandria to a route through Downtown at the urging of merchants, civic leaders and political officials who feared economic losses for the city had it been bypassed. This pushed back the timetable for completion of the 4.5-mile segment through Alexandria to 1996.36

Additional stretches of the original Interstate 49 in Louisiana were dedicated by Governor Edwin Edwards on May 14, 1992 at the U.S. 167 interchange south of Alexandria. The ceremony preceded the opening of a 20-mile section of I-49 between Alexandria and Meeker and a four-mile segment from England Drive to Rapides Station. The 201 miles opened at the time totaled $598 million in costs.37

The 208-mile section of I-49 between Interstate 10 and I-20 in Louisiana was completed on May 1, 1996, at a cost of approximately $1.38 billion. Originally proposed as a toll road, I-49 was constructed with federal funds, some of which were redirected from unconstructed urban Interstates within Louisiana and the rest (153 miles) came from a "supplemental reserve." The bypass around Alexandria was designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Highway. At the time, Interstate 49 was the longest Interstate to begin and end within the same state.10

Louisiana: Interstate 49 South

Interstate 49 through Lafayette received initial approval January 8, 2003 by the Federal Highway Administration. The motion allowed for funding to commence on the planned five-mile $350 million viaduct between Interstate 10 and the Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT). Not all residents were thrilled with this progress, as many near the projected path of the freeway feared impacts to developed and mostly poor neighborhoods nearby. In related opposition, legal action was pursued to move the project eastward into Saint Martin Parish. However, planners contended that the project complied with all applicable laws, and it appeared very unlikely that the highway will be relocated from the original planned routing.2

A Congressional group met in 2003 at the New Orleans International Airport (MSY) to discuss the estimated $4.9-billion corridor and funding related issues. Representative Tom Pitre of Wisconsin indicated that the House was drafting a $375 billion six-year proposal that would allocate Louisiana $4.28 billion which will help pay for Interstate 49 within the state. On the docket for I-49 in Louisiana was the creation of a 36-mile portion of freeway between Shreveport and the Arkansas state line and the upgrade of U.S. 90 between Lafayette and New Orleans to Interstate standards. Total costs within Louisiana were estimated to be $2.3 billion, with the state covering 20% of the costs.3

A number of projects have already upgraded U.S. 90 to freeway standards in Iberia and Lafayette Parishes. These include an $24.5-million interchange at Louisiana 25 opened in January 2011 and the upgrade of U.S. 90 from Pinhook Road to Broussard which was completed in October 2012 at a cost of $20 million. Frontage roads were constructed along U.S. 90 between LA 675 and LA 88 at a cost of $21.4 million. These were completed in January and June 2011 respectively. Additional frontage roads were added to U.S. 90 from LA 83 to Darnell Road ($5.4 million and finished in February 2012), from Darnell Road to LA 85 ($5.8 million and finished in April 2014) and at Captain Cade Road ($1.4 million and complete in August 2012).

Louisiana: Interstate 49 North

Interstate 49 North is broken into 11 segments at a total cost of $670 million:28

  • A - Louisiana 168 to the Arkansas line
  • B - Parish Road 16 (Mira-Myrtis Road) to Louisiana 168
  • C - Louisiana 2 to Parish Road 16 (Mira-Myrtis Road)
  • D - U.S. 71 (south of Hosston) to Louisiana 2
  • E - Louisiana 170 to U.S. 71 (south of Hosston)
  • F - Louisiana 530 to Louisiana 170
  • G - Louisiana 169 to Louisiana 530
  • H - Louisiana 173 to Louisiana 169
  • I - Louisiana 1 to Louisiana 173
  • J - Louisiana 3194 (Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) to Louisiana 1
  • K - Interstate 220 to Louisiana 3194 (Dr. Martin Luther King Drive)

Groundbreaking for the first phase (Segment B) of the new Interstate 49 corridor between Interstate 220 and the Arkansas State Line occurred north of Mira at the intersection of Parish Road 16 and Parish Road 25 on Thursday, April 7, 2005.8 This section of Interstate 49 was estimated to cost $385 million.9 Work continued in 2007 on Interstate 49 at the state line, where crews completed earth moving on a 6.6-mile long section near the Arkansas state line.

State money was secured to bridge the 20% funding gap needed for I-49 North, allowing LADOTD to work on seven of 11 proposed freeway segments between Interstate 220 and the border. Optimistic officials hoped to see new 6.6-mile section of future Interstate 49 open in 2010, if not 2009.9

LADOTD later anticipated having most of Interstate 49 North, from Louisiana 1 (Segment I) to Louisiana 168 south of the Arkansas state line (Segment A), open and signed as I-49 by November 2013.25 This included a temporary end at Louisiana 168 that awaited until Arkansas completed its extension of Arkansas 549 southward, which was projected for May 2014. A widening of LA-168 east from Future I-49 to U.S. 71 was proposed to augment the connection to Arkansas until the freeways were seamlessly connected. The gap between LA 168 and U.S. 71 north of Kiblah, Arkansas opened to traffic after a ribbon cutting ceremony held by officials from both states on the morning of November 10, 2014.28

Arkansas

Interstate 49 in southwest Arkansas overtook the Arkansas 549 freeway between Exit 4 (U.S. 71) near Doddridge and U.S. 59 & 71 north of McKinney Bayou and Texarkana as well as Future Interstate 130 along Arkansas 245. The first segment of this freeway route (from Fouke to Texarkana) was completed on December 16, 2004.7 The remainder south to Louisiana opened on November 10, 2014.

Work in Texarkana focused on upgrading the Arkansas 245 freeway to Interstate standards from the interchange with AR 549, southeast of Texarkana, to Arkansas Boulevard, where I-49 branches northeast to Interstate 30 along a new alignment. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on April 30, 2013 for the 10.6-mile segment of new I-49 between Arkansas Boulevard and the state line north of Texarkana. Wet weather delayed opening of the roadway to May 15.23

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is currently reviewing funding options for Interstate 49 between Texarkana north to Fort Smith. Currently no freeway route exists between Texarkana and Fort Chaffee, southeast of Fort Smith. Work commenced in 2010 on a section of Future Interstate 49 between County Route 8 and Arkansas 22 in the Fort Smith / Fort Chaffee area. 2.7 miles of roadway embankment, two overpasses and four box culverts for the new freeway were completed in fall of 2011.19 Additional work constructed an interchange at Arkansas 22 (Rogers Avenue) and diamond interchanges at Massard Road and Roberts Boulevard as part of the overall $57.65-million, seven-mile stretch of freeway on the Chaffee Crossing section of I-49. The contract involving the construction of 0.635-miles of roadway and new interchange with U.S. 71 at the south end was let May 2, 2012.21 This work concluded on July 14, 2015.30

Leading north from Fort Smith to the Bella Vista bypass, Interstate 540 (built as Arkansas 540) was redesignated as Interstate 49 per approval by AASHTO on October 21, 2013. A 30-day project to resign I-540 & U.S. 71 as I-49 between I-40 and U.S. 71 Business south of Bella Vista kicked off on April 21, 2014. Signs on other future sections of I-49, including the Bella Vista Bypass and the stretch between U.S. 71 and AR 22 are dually signed as Future I-49 and Arkansas 549.26

What was previously known as Arkansas 540 was initially submitted to AASHTO for inclusion in the Interstate Highway System as Interstate 49 from Interstate 40 near Fort Smith north to the junction with Business U.S. 71 near Fayetteville. On April 25, 1997, AASHTO denied this proposal, indicating that the lack of connecting routes at the northern end would preclude the route from consideration at that time. It was approved as Interstate 540 a few months later by AASHTO, on November 14, 1997.

The Bella Vista Bypass, expected to cost $150.6 million,27 was planned to be constructed as a toll road. This concept was approved by the Arkansas State Highway Commission on April 12, 2006.11 A 3.03-mile section of the Bella Vista Bypass was let in February 2011 with ground breaking on July 8, 2011. This work covered a stretch of roadway between Arkansas 72 west of Hiwasse and Arkansas 72 southeast of Hiwasse.20 Work on the $19.8-million contract wrapped up on April 22, 2014.27

Missouri

The AASHTO Highways Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering meeting of October 14, 2011 conditionally approved the Interstate 49 designation in Missouri once the route was fully upgraded to Interstate standards between Pineville and Kansas City. Additionally business loop designations for U.S. 71 at Butler, Joplin, Neosho and Nevada were given conditional approval for renumbering as Business Loops for I-49.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) approved highway construction on August 4, 2010 on a number of projects to upgrade U.S. 71 between Joplin and Kansas City to Interstate standards in anticipation of redesignating the highway to I-49 by December 2012.3 Four interchanges were completed at a cost between $4 and 5 million along then-Future Interstate 49 / U.S. 71 by September 2010. These included those at Missouri 126, Routes DD & EE and Routes V & C within Barton County and Missouri 52 in Bates County.13 An interchange between U.S. 71 and Route E, north of Milo, opened to traffic on November 18, 2011.14 Work on an interchange between U.S. 71 and Route TT, midway between Horton and Rich Hill commenced in late January 2012 at a cost of $6.4-million with a planned completion by December 2012.15 Further north, work continued with the opening of overpass for 327th Street on August 9, 2012 near Archie. This bridge eliminated an at-grade crossing and was the first of three projects to upgrade U.S. 71 to limited access standards. A diamond interchange with 307th Street and an overpass for 283rd Street opened later in 2012.18

A contract to erect signs with space allocated for Interstate 49 was let in October 2011 in anticipation of the December 2012 planned signing of the route in Missouri. A project to install around 1,200 signs for I-49 commenced on February 1, 2012 at a cost of $3.5-million. That work was projected for completion by December 1, 2012.16 Interstate 49 was made official in Missouri on December 12, 2012 in a ceremony held at Joplin East Middle School at noon. The designation applied to 180 miles of U.S. 71 between Kansas City and Joplin.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 10 - Lafayette, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 49/U.S. 167 south
The final mainline interchange of Interstate 49 south is Exit 1B for Pont De Mouton Road. The is one of five area interchanges to serve the city of Lafayette along Interstate 49. Interstate 10 is just one mile to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Traffic merging onto Interstate 49 southbound from Pont De Mouton Road forms an exit-only lane for Exit 1A/Interstate 10 westbound. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
U.S. 167 follows the southernmost 24 miles of Interstate 49 between Opelousas and Lafayette. Before Interstate 49 was signed in the mid-1980s, U.S. 167 was the only route to follow this north-south freeway. This southbound photograph shows the paired routing enter the Interstate 10 cloverleaf interchange at Exit 1A. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Interstate 49/U.S. 167 southbound at the Interstate 10 eastbound cloverleaf ramp. U.S. 167 quickly transitions to a surface boulevard with many traffic lights and crossovers. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Interstate 49 corridor signs are posted throughout U.S. 167 and U.S. 90 through Lafayette. As it stands now, Interstate 49 is planned to travel through the city along or near the present U.S. 167 to U.S. 90 routing. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Perspective from U.S. 167 north
The first full-on guide sign for the upcoming Interstate 49 junction along U.S. 167 northbound. The stretch in the immediate vicinity of the junction features frontage roads with various travel amenities. Also featured within the median of U.S. 167 is the Lafayette Visitors Center. Photo taken 10/15/03.
Northbound on U.S. 167 as it enters the Interstate 49 freeway at Interstate 10. Northward Interstate 49 and U.S. 167 travel to Alexandria (80 miles) and Shreveport (199 miles). There is not much on the Interstate 49 corridor in between those cities. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Interstate 49/U.S. 167 north at Exit 1A for Interstate 10 eastbound. The city of Lake Charles is 67 miles to the west. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Perspective from Interstate 10 west
First Interstate 49 sign on westbound Interstate 10. Hurricane Evacuation trailblazers are posted on Interstate 49 from Lafayette northward all the way to Shreveport. The city of Opelousas is only 19 miles north of this junction. Vidcap taken 01/96.
Approach signage along Interstate 10 westbound. When this vidcap was taken, Interstate 49 was not complete in Alexandria nor in most of Shreveport. However, the 1986 posted guide signs for the north-south route still feature Opelousas as the control point. Vidcap taken 01/96.
Daytime view of the 0.25 mile guide sign of Exit 103B/Interstate 49 & U.S. 167 northbound. A new diamond interchange has opened to the east at Louisiana Avenue. The interchange features a new Interstate 10 alignment just south of the previous. The original westbound lanes of Interstate 10 now compose the westbound on and off-ramps to Louisiana Avenue. With that stated, the one-mile guide sign for Interstate 49 is still posted along the former westbound mainline (well off of the new mainline). Photo taken 10/15/03.
Westbound Interstate 10 at Interstate 49's current southern terminus. Future Interstate 49 corridor signs are present on U.S. 167 through to the junction with U.S. 90. The present thinking and planning will continue Interstate 49 southward along the current U.S. 167 corridor through the heart of the city. Also planned for the area is an east-west bypass freeway for the city of Lafayette. Vidcap taken 01/96.
Interstate 49 and U.S. 167 carry just four lanes throughout the Lafayette to Opelousas stretch. At Opelousas, the paired routes intersect U.S. 190, a secondary corridor between Opelousas and Baton Rouge across the Acadiana wetlands. Photo taken 10/15/03.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 west
Interstate 210 69 miles at Lake Charles, LA
Interstate 210 78 miles at Sulphur, LA
Interstate 610 208 miles at Houston, TX
Perspective from Interstate 10 east
Three exits of Interstate 10 directly serve the city of Lafayette. They are Exit 100/Louisiana 3184, Exit 101/Louisiana 182, and Exit 103A/U.S. 167. This photograph looks at the first mentioning of Interstate 49 on eastbound Interstate 10. The exit to the right serves Louisiana 182/Exit 101 into downtown Lafayette. Along the U.S. 90 parishes through Acadiana, Louisiana 182 composes the original alignment of the Old Spanish Trail. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Exit 103A/B guide sign, 0.75 miles west of the southern terminus of Interstate 49. The freeway will extend southward through the city itself when all is said and done. Opposition groups are trying to have the corridor moved to the east of the city. Yet wetlands and other environmental concerns are seeing issues with that plan. Therefore the in-town routing is still preferred. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Eastbound Interstate 10 at Exit 103A for U.S. 167/Future Interstate 49 south. From this cloverleaf interchange to Lafayette Regional Airport, U.S. 167 sees heavy commercial development along its frontage. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
The loop ramp to Interstate 49/U.S. 167/Exit 103B departs Interstate 10. The city of Shreveport is exactly 200 miles to the north via Interstate 49. The corridor between Opelousas and Shreveport (not including Alexandria) is vastly undeveloped. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 east
Interstate 110 52 miles at Baton Rouge, LA
Interstate 12 56 miles at Baton Rouge, LA
Interstate 55 106 miles at LaPlace, LA
Future Southern Terminus - Interstate 10 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 10 west
The end of Interstate 49 South as originally envisioned was the interchange where Interstate 10 and U.S. 90 Business (unsigned Interstate 910) come together near Downtown New Orleans. This end point is not entirely certain however, as funding woes have questioned whether or not building Interstate 49 east to New Orleans from the Boutte area is financially feasible. One proposal considered is to reroute Interstate 49 northeast along Interstate 310 and end it near the Jefferson Parish line.
See the Interstate 910 Louisiana guide for photos of the possible south end of Interstate 49 at I-10.
Northern Terminus - Interstate 20 - Shreveport, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 49 north
Northbound Interstate 49 approaching the terminus at Interstate 20 in downtown Shreveport. The signs display "Pete Harris Dr/Murphy St" and "I-20 Dallas/Monroe." Photo taken by James Allen (5/01).
A close-up of the right-hand panel in the above photograph of Interstate 49 northbound. Interstate 49 traffic to Dallas outside of the city is directed to the west via Louisiana Louisiana 3132/Inner Loop Expressway at Exit 201. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (1/18/02).
Perspective from Interstate 20 west
The horizon opens to reveal the skyline of Shreveport. Also visible is the two mile guide sign for the present northern terminus of Interstate 49 at Exit 17B. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Within the Exit 19A interchange with Louisiana 1 is this upcoming exits sign that features Exits 18 for Fairfield Avenue and Exit 17B for Interstate 49 south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Approaching Interstate 49 south/Exit 17B from Interstate 20 westbound. Interstate 20 is suppressed below the city streets as it cuts a swath through downtown Shreveport. Note the reduced 50 MPH speed limit. Photo taken by Justin Cozart (09/02).
Second perspective of the Exit 17B/Interstate 49 overhead on Interstate 20 westbound. Interstate 49 features five interchanges that serve the city of Shreveport. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Interstate 20 westbound at Exit 17A/Interstate 49 south. Traffic for the southbound freeway rises dramatically as part of this sprawling stack interchange. The control point is listed as Alexandria. The central Louisiana city is located 123 miles to the south. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (2001).
Springtime view of the southbound beginning of Interstate 49 from Interstate 20 west. 174 miles separate this junction with the city limits of Dallas via Interstate 20. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Close-up of westbound Interstate 20 signage at Junction Interstate 49 in Shreveport. Once outside of the Shreveport city limits, Interstate 49 is a lonely drive for the next 100 or so miles. The newness of the freeway and weak economy of the Pelican State has lead the frontage to remain vastly undeveloped. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (2/02).
Interstate 49 southbound sign bridge on the Exit 17B ramp from Interstate 20 west. Barricaded to the right is a ghost ramp for what appears to be the planned in-city routing of Interstate 49 northward. This planned alignment appears to be canceled with the recently revealed future overlap of Interstate 49 to the west. This overlap will be in place when the route extends to Texarkana, Arkansas. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
A massive stack interchange exists between Interstate 20 and the northern terminus of Interstate 49. This photograph looks at the impressive structure from westbound Interstate 20. Embedded within the Interstate 49 stack is Exit 17A for Linwood Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.
Eventually Interstate 49 will continue northward to Fort Smith, Arkansas. When the alignment north of Shreveport is completed, Interstate 49 will reroute along the Louisiana 3132/Inner Loop Expressway and Interstate 220 to around milepost 6 before departing on an independent alignment. Existing Interstate 49 within the Inner Loop Expressway to Interstate 20 will likely be renumbered as a spur of Interstate 49. Top two photos taken by Justin Cozart (09/02); third photo taken by Chris Patriarca (06/20/03).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 20 west
Interstate 220 6 miles at west Shreveport, LA
Interstate 635 173 miles at Balch Springs, TX
Interstate 45 180 miles at Dallas, TX
Perspective from Interstate 20 east
Eastbound Interstate 20 approaching Junction Interstate 49, two miles. Interstate 49 provides convenient access between Dallas-Fort Worth metro and New Orleans via Interstate 10. Traffic wishing to reach the Gulf Coastal Interstate sees a 206 mile trek to Lafayette. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (2001).
Eastbound Interstate 20 at Junction Interstate 49 in Shreveport. Five miles separate the north end with the Inner Loop Expressway/Louisiana 3132. At that junction, a symmetrical stack interchange exists. Photo taken by Lachlan Sims (5/01).
Another view of Eastbound Interstate 20 at Junction Interstate 49 in Shreveport. Motorists traveling the Interstate southbound will notice no billboards. That is because legislation was passed to ban the placement of them within visibility of the freeway. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (2001).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 20 east
Interstate 220 9 miles east of Bossier City , LA
Interstate 220 214 miles at Jackson, MS
Interstate 55
overlap begin
217 miles at Jackson, MS

Sources:

  1. Richard Savoie (LADOTD), email. January 2003.
  2. "I-49 connector gets federal approval." The Opelousas Daily World, January 9, 2003.
  3. "I-49 Coming to Missouri." MoDOT News Release, August 4, 2010.
  4. U.S. 71 in McDonald County http://www.modot.state.mo.us/southwest/mac71overview.htm and Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (2005-2009) - McDonald County http://www.modot.state.mo.us/southwest/stip/McDonaldCountySTIP.htm
  5. Kent Boyd (Missouri DOT), email to J.P. forwarded to AARoads. Friday, July 16, 2004. Subject: Re: Question about High Priority Corridor 1 (U.S. 71)
  6. jd121#fastmail.fm, email to AARoads. September 23, 2004. Subject: Update for US 71 in KCMO.
  7. Chip Kelley, personal email dated 11/29/04 and "I-49 awaits bill windfall: Arkansas leg of highway needs $1.5 billion." Texarkana Gazette, November 25, 2004.
  8. "DOTD Hosts Ground Breaking Ceremony for I-49 North Pre-Construction Project." Louisiana Department of Transportation Press Release, April 7, 2005.
  9. "Interstate 49 extends leg into Pelican State: Louisiana official suggests gas tax hike to pay for road," Texarkana Gazette, April 8, 2005, and "Welcome Center, I-49 leg open today: Mayor says 'great change' will follow opening of highway." Texarkana Gazette, December 16, 2004.
  10. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  11. "Toll road on Bella Vista bypass moving forward." Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2006.
  12. "I-49 in the passing lane." The Shreveport Times, August 19, 2007.
  13. "MoDOT completes four interchanges as part of upgrading U.S. 71 to interstate status." The Joplin Globe, September 12, 2010.
  14. "U.S. 71 Interchange north of Milo opens." The Fort Scott Tribune, November 19, 2011.
  15. "Interchange Construction Begins Jan. 30." Southwest District News Releases (MoDOT), January 27, 2012.
  16. "New I-49 Signs Being Installed Along U.S. 71." Southwest District News Releases (MoDOT), February 1, 2012.
  17. "Re: I-49 Coming to Missouri" online posting by Grzrd, AARoads Forum, February 2, 2012.
  18. "New 327th Street Overpass at Route 71 to Open Late Thursday." MoDOT Kansas City Area District News Release, August 7, 2012.
  19. "Re: I-49 in AR (Bella Vista, Fort Smith)" online posting by Grzrd, AARoads Forum, August 25, 2010.
  20. "AHTD Advertises First Bella Vista Bypass Project" online posting by Grzrd, AARoads Forum, January 25, 2011.
  21. "Re: I-49 in AR (Bella Vista, Fort Smith)" online posting by Grzrd, AARoads Forum, April 3, 2012.
  22. "I-49 North Segment K Construction to Begin in September 2013?" online posting by Grzrd, AARoads Forum, June 21, 2012.
  23. "Highway 549 Opens to Traffic in Texarkana Wednesday." AHTD press release, May 13, 2013.
  24. "Smoke from I-49 clearing project fills sky." KTAL, September 25, 2013.
  25. I-49 North, LaDOTD Project web site.
  26. "NORTHWEST ARKANSAS TO RECEIVE NEW INTERSTATE HIGHWAY DESIGNATION." Information Release, AHTD. April 16, 2014.
  27. "First Section of Bella Vista Bypass to Open." Arkansas Business April 21, 2014.
  28. "I-49 opens from Shreveport to Arkansas, beyond." The Times (Shreveport, LA), November 10, 2014.
  29. I-49 Maps and Information, MoDOT web site.
  30. "I-49 Opening 'Finally Here,' FCRA Boss Says." Times Record Online Edition, June 22, 2015.
  31. "Explosions Clear Way For Bella Vista Bypass." 5News - KFSM/KXNW, October 28, 2014.
  32. "Completion of I-49 nears halfway mark." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), June 26, 1988.
  33. "New segment of I-49 open." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), October 22, 1987.
  34. "I-49 section slated to open." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), March 1, 1989.
  35. "New section of I- 49 to open Monday." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), May 12, 1989.
  36. "New stretch of interstate to be opened." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), November 10, 1989.
  37. "I-49 segments to open, should speed up trips." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), September 11, 1991.
  38. "Last non-urban section of I-49 complete." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), May 3, 1992.

Page Updated June 30, 2015.

Mileage

State Louisiana
Mileage 208.25
Cities Lafayette, Opelousas, Alexandria, Natchitoches, Shreveport
Junctions Interstate 10, Interstate 20
State Arkansas
Mileage 109.81
Cities Texarkana, Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers
Junctions Interstate 30, Interstate 40
State Missouri
Mileage 178.96
Cities Joplin, Kansas City
Junctions Interstate 44, Interstate 435
TOTAL 497.02
Source: December 31, 2014 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 49 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Louisiana Lafayette 54,309 2000
Louisiana Alexandria 17,343 2002
Louisiana Lena 5,633 2000
Louisiana Shreveport 30,212 2000
Source: Louisiana Traffic Volume Monitoring (LADOTD)
Complete Interstate 49 AADT data.
Interstate 44 east at Missouri 249 north and U.S. 71 south. Signs installations from earlier in 2012 allocate space for Interstate 49. Photo taken 05/04/12.
Interstate 49 will join Interstate 44 east & U.S. 71 north between Exits 11 and 18 in December 2012. Interstate 49 south will follow the U.S. 71 freeway to Pineville at that time as well.
Interstate 49 corridor between Lafayette and Alexandria - 1982 Louisiana Official Highway Map
U.S. 167 was upgraded to a divided highway from Lafayette and Opelousas by the 1970s. It was incorporated into the initial stretch of Interstate 49, which started in April 1980 with an $11.9-million contract for work in St. Landry Parish.35
Shreveport inset - 1992 Louisiana Official Highway Map
One of the final segments of Interstate 49 built in Louisiana was the northernmost portion between Louisiana 3132 (Inner Loop Expressway) and Interstate 20 in Shreveport. This was completed by late 1994.
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