Interstate 530 was commissioned August 2, 1999, over the existing U.S. 65 freeway on the same day that the Pine Bluff bypass was opened to traffic. It connects Little Rock metro with Pine Bluff 35 miles to the south via the U.S. 65 freeway. The freeway was signed upon completion of the western portion of the Pine Bluff Bypass. Parts of Interstate 530 have been completed for many years, with the northern 10 miles predating 1970. Plans call for eventual extension of Interstate 530 south to Monticello, with the initial route being designated as Arkansas 530.
Interstate 530 was approved by AASHTO on November 14, 1997, as a "future route" between U.S. 65 south of Pine Bluff and Interstate 30 south of Little Rock. The freeway was given its official designation on August 2, 1999, when the last segment of the bypass around Pine Bluff was finished.
Plans call for an initial extension of Interstate 530 from Pine Bluff south to Monticello, where it would meet the new Interstate 69 corridor. This freeway connection will likely follow U.S. 425, a relatively new U.S. highway commissioned in 1989. The new route will likely be an expressway at first with at-grade intersections, then upgraded to a freeway ultimately. The interim designation is Arkansas 530; the first section of Arkansas 530 opened as a Super Two between U.S. 278 and Arkansas 35 near Willmar on June 6, 2006.9 Interstate 530 is a direct result of the "Dickey Split" compromise (see Interstate 69 for more), which allows for access to the Interstate 69/NAFTA corridor from Pine Bluff.
The project to connect Interstate 530 with the future Interstate 69 in southeastern Arkansas is slated to cost $300 million. Construction of the 38-mile route is set to begin at both ends of the project. That includes the northern end at Pine Bluff and the southern end near Wilmar on U.S. 278. Additionally, $30 million originally intended for a U.S. 425 widening near the Interstate 530 extension now will be split between Interstate 530 and U.S. 65 and 167 in a compromise. The southern segment will consist of a Super Two freeway initially, from Wilmar north to Arkansas 35. AHSTD projects as many as 8,600 vehicles per day (vpd) for that segment. Also $84 million of the initial $100 million appropriation from Congress is assigned to an area near Pinebergen to the south of Pine Bluff for a four-lane segment of highway. A two-lane segment will connect to this segment where traffic projections of 26,100 to 32,600 vpd is expected.278 To that end, the first 4.5-mile section of two-lane Arkansas 530 opened near Willmar and Monticello between U.S. 278 and Arkansas 35 in 2008, and contract letting and construction are expected to begin in 2009 for the three remaining sections that would connect Interstate 530 with U.S. 278 and eventually Interstate 69. Arkansas 530 will cost $620 million to build between Interstate 530's southern terminus and U.S. 278 and Interstate 69.10
Beyond the extension of Interstate 530 to future Interstate 69, plans call for the freeway to continue south along U.S. 425 to meet Interstate 20 in Monroe. From Monroe, Interstate 530 could then continue south along the proposed U.S. 165 freeway from Monroe southwest to near Lake Charles via Alexandria. This project is identified as Project LSTP-021 in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update.
A candidate for the fifth district of the U.S. Congress in Louisiana took this concept a step further. John "Jock" Scott, a Republican candidate, made extending Interstate 530 south from Arkansas to Monroe and Alexandria one of the fundamental tenets of his campaign.3 A press release from September 8, 2004 spelled out Scott's plans to use Interstate 530 as a north-south connection to Interstate 20 and Interstate 49, thus stirring the local economy.4 In the article Scott: Interstate will help economy (in the Monroe News-Star by Robbie Evans, 10/21/04).5 According to the article, "An interstate highway connecting Alexandria to Little Rock, Ark., would be the key to economic development in northeastern Louisiana, Scott said. His proposed Interstate 530 would not only provide economic development opportunities in the region but would generate tax revenues for public school systems struggling to provide better educational opportunities for students."
During the elections of November 2, 2004, Jock Scott was soundly defeated at the polls, carrying only 16% of the vote. Incumbent Representative Rodney Alexander won with 59% of the vote.6 It looks Interstate 530 in Louisiana will need another champion.
Southern Terminus - U.S. 65 - Pine Bluff
Perspective from Interstate 530 south
An END shield used to be posted at the end of the Pine Bluff Bypass, which is where U.S. 65 resumes its original path. As of Summer 2003, the south end Interstate 530 shield assembly pictured here was removed. This may not be surprising for those who are familiar with Arkansas, as the state rarely uses END shield banners. Another change at the southern terminus is the addition of U.S. 425 to area guide signs. It appears that the route extends one mile from the original terminal at U.S. 65 westward to the Interstate 530 stack interchange. However, signs at the intersection itself do not reflect a U.S. 65/425 overlap.1 The original alignment of U.S. 65 between Pine Bluff and Little Rock is now signed as Arkansas 365. Before Interstate 530 was signed, U.S. 65 flew solo on the Pine Bluff Bypass. U.S. 65 is hidden along Interstate 530 as per Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) guidelines. What makes this interesting is that part of the original alignment of U.S. 65 in Pine Bluff retains U.S. 65 Business shields. This business route travels west of Arkansas 365 to Interstate 530 along a second alignment U.S. 65 followed at one point before the Pine Bluff bypass was completed. If Arkansas would consider Interstate Business Loops, U.S. 65 Business would make an excellent Business Loop 530. Photo taken by Jeremy Lance (05/00).
Perspective from Interstate 530 north
The first Interstate 530 northbound reassurance shield. In mid-1999 U.S. 63 had yet to extend southward to Pine Bluff, El Dorado, or Bastrop, Louisiana. U.S. 79 additionally traveled through downtown Pine Bluff. When Interstate 530 opened, only U.S. 65 and Arkansas 15 overlapped along the Pine Bluff bypass. However, alignment changes occurred within the next year (see next photograph for an explanation). Photo taken by Jeremy Lance (09/99).
U.S. 63 was extended in late 1999 to Bastrop, Louisiana, from Arkansas, and now merges with Interstate 530 around Pine Bluff. Most of Arkansas 15 was replaced with this extension. This explains the replaced Arkansas 15 shield in the above photograph and the addition of U.S. 63. U.S. 79, originally only displayed with a trailblazer here, now follows Interstate 530 from the terminus to exit 39. Original U.S. 79 through Pine Bluff is now Business U.S. 79. U.S. 79 east of Interstate 530 overlaps with U.S. 63 to near Altheimer. Photo taken by Jeremy Lance (05/00).
Northbound Interstate 530 and hidden U.S. 65/167 as the trio enters the city limits of Little Rock. One mile to the north, with the downtown Little Rock skyline looking onward, is the final Interstate 530 interchange/Exit 1A/B. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Now within one-half mile of the Interstate 530 terminus and Interstate 440 eastbound beginning/Exit 1B. Mainline Interstate 530 northbound traffic defaults onto Interstate 30 eastbound into Downtown Little Rock. Therefore no exit number is associated with the transition. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Crossing the Fourche Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River, Interstate 530 prepares to yield the Exit 1A ramp for Interstate 30 west. Interstate 30 westbound remains within the city limits of Little Rock for another 12 miles through to Exit 126, the Pulaski/Saline County line. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
A second guide sign advises motorists for the Exit 1A ramp to Interstate 30 west. Featured in the background is the Exit 1B ramp departure for the eastbound beginning of Interstate 440. The Southeast Bypass serves Little Rock National Airport at Exit 3 and the Port of Little Rock and Industrial Park at Exit 5. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 530 south
The first southbound Interstate 530 reassurance shield. Note that U.S. 65, while the predecessor along all of the Interstate 530 freeway, is now shamed to a concealed existance. The first mainline interchange of the Pine Bluff spur of Interstate 30 is Exit 3 with Arkansas 338/Dixon Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 30 west
Pressing southward out of the central business district of Little Rock, Interstate 30 nears the original U.S. 65 at Exit 139A/Arkansas 365. A frontage road system is in place along Interstate 30 between Interstate 440/530 and 6th Street near downtown. With this in mind, a system of slip ramps represent the Exit 139A interchange. 1.25 miles to the south is the pervasive Interstate 440/530 interchange of Exit 138. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Continuing south on Interstate 30 over the Union Pacific Railroad. Interstate 30 lane allocations reveal two mainline travel lanes and two lanes for Exit 138/Interstate 440 west and Interstate 530 south. Note that Interstate 530 (and the previously hidden U.S. 65/167) are not assigned an exit number. This is based on the continuation of the north-south alignment of Interstate 30 to south out of town. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
With passing now prohibited, Interstate 30 enters the Exit 138 interchange of Interstate 440 east and Interstate 530 south. The overpass to which the panels are attached is the westbound Interstate 440 roadway to Interstate 30 west and 530 south. The Interstate 30 eastbound mainline
can be seen entering from the right. Not mentioned thus far, U.S. 67 continues in a hidden capacity westward along Interstate 30 to Exit 114 west of Benton. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Beyond the Interstate 30 departure, the first Interstate 530 pull-through panel reveals itself. Below is the Interstate 30 eastbound mainline as it merges with Interstate 530 north to the left. Exit 138 departs just beyond this underpass for Interstate 440 east. There are four interchanges of Interstate 440 that reside within the city limits of Little Rock. Interstate 530/U.S. 65/167 depart the city limits one mile to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
A second reminder of Exit 138, the eastbound beginning of Interstate 440. There are three Interstate 440's in existance and this one is the farthest west at the present time. At one point however, an Interstate 440 was to exist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. That route became part of the Interstate 44 corridor through the Oklahoma capital city. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 30 east
Interstate 30/U.S. 67 northbound prepare to enter the dual termini of Interstate 530 north and Interstate 440 west. U.S. 70 is introduced to the equation of Exit 138 on Interstate 30 eastbound guide signs. This is in contradiction to the official 2003 Arkansas State map. The publication maintains U.S. 70 shields on Broadway and Roosevelt Road through the streets of Little Rock. To stir the pot so to speak, U.S. 65 and 167 add to the mix of Interstate 30/U.S. 67-70 as they jointly enter downtown Little Rock. Photo by Jeff Morrison (12/28/01).
Note the construction and asphalt pavement in the above photograph. A rare conversion has taken place that has resulted in the transition of the Interstate 30 roadway from an asphalt based surface to a concrete composed surface. Normally in highway engineering the conversion is the other way around as asphalt construction results in cheaper and shorter costs. This project is part of the Interstate Rehabilitation Program AHSTD is currently undertaking. Otherwise this sign bridge advises motorists of the upcoming Exit 138A/B interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Exit 138A departs well ahead of the Interstate 30/530 ramp intermingling to the east. This two lane ramp begins the Southeast Bypass of Interstate 440. The recently completed Arkansas 440 allows U.S. 67/167 based traffic interests to Jacksonville and Jonesboro to bypass Downtown Little Rock altogether and avoid any Interstate 40 overlapping. Photo by Jeff Morrison (12/28/01).
Springtime view of the Interstate 440 split from Interstate 30 eastbound. In addition to the east Little Rock functionality of Interstate 440, the freeway also expedites Memphis and other Interstate 40-based motorists a quick departure of the Little Rock metropolitan area. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Slightly further east is situated the Exit 138B off-ramp to Interstate 530/U.S. 65/167 south. The Pine Bluff spur of Interstate 30 reaches the western portions of that city at Exit 35/Business U.S. 65. For Interstate 30 eastbound, a merge onto the Interstate 530 northbound roadway is to come. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 440 west
Interstate 440 westbound at the final mainline interchange/Exit 1 - Arkansas 365/Confederate Boulevard. Displayed here is the hazardous materials restriction advisory sign for Interstate 30. All hazmats must avoid the central business district of Little Rock via the Interstate system of Interstate 30 (west of I-440), 40, 430, and 440. Bans are in effect for all of Interstate 630 and Interstate 30 between Interstate 530/440 to 40. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Based on the functionality of Interstate 440 as a Little Rock bypass for through traffic interests, the westbound mainline defaults onto Interstate 30 west. Therefore Exit 138A/B serves Interstate 30 east and Interstate 530 south. The exit numbers reflect the Interstate 30 mileage to the Lone Star State. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 440 for all intents and purposes draws to a close at Exit 138A/Interstate 30/U.S. 70 east/U.S. 65/67/167 north. Exit 138B of the southbound beginning of Interstate 530 is situated around the bend in this spacious interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Matt Hollis, email: "I-530 in Southern Arkansas," June 25, 2003
"Panel reaches deal to build I-69 stretch from both ends." Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 9, 2003