East-West Interstate 630 bisects the city of Little Rock while linking the western suburbs to the State Cpapitol and Downtown. The western end is the Big Rock Interchange, named for a large rock formation unearthed during reconstruction of the interchange (2009-15) with I-430 and Chenal Parkway. The eastern end is a stack interchange with Interstate 30 opposite East 15th Street. A portion of I-630 runs below grade to the east of a viaduct carrying the freeway across a Union Pacific Railroad, Thayer and Price Streets.
Interstate 630 (Wilbur D. Mills Freeway) was first contemplated along the alignment of the proposed "Eighth Street Expressway."1 Construction began in the 1970s, but the freeway was not completed until the mid-1980s.
When the section of Interstate 630 between Interstate 430/Shackleford Road and University Avenue opened in 1977, the freeway came to a stop at a T-intersection. Financial Centre (two different office complexes at the southwest and northwest corners of the Shackleford Road/Financial Centre Parkway/Interstate 630 intersection) and Financial Centre Parkway were yet to be built. The freeway ended at a stand of trees. Westbound traffic on approach to this intersection still ended at a traffic light. The left lane and the middle lane were originally left turn lanes for southbound traffic onto Shackleford Road. The right lane was a right turn lane for Northbound traffic onto Shackleford Road.
When Financial Centre was built in the early 80s, Financial Centre Parkway was built for only a few blocks. It was not until sometime in the early 1990s that Financial Centre Parkway was extended to link with the former Rock Creek Parkway (renamed Chenal Parkway). Chenal Parkway was eventually extended to Arkansas 10. During the 2005-2006 time frame, various discussions were entertained to modify this dangerous intersection.2 This led to the six-year long Big Rock Interchange project. $125-million in work upgraded the former cloverleaf interchange between Interstates 430 and 630 with new flyover ramps while added a new overpass above Shackleford Road between the west end of I-630 and Chenal Parkway. Additional work modified the Baptist Health Medical Center interchange along I-630 with new collector distributor roadways. Work was completed in summer 2015.4
This map depicts what the old eastern terminus looked like (more or less, not to scale) for Interstate 630 before its last two miles were constructed to intersect with Interstate 30 in the early 1980s. The picture does not show 8th Street coming down a hill and dipping into Park Street to enter the Interstate 630 freeway. Today, a bridge crosses over Park Street. At that time, 8th Street (westbound, three-lane, one-way street) and 9th Street (eastbound, three-lane, one-way street) carried much of the traffic from here to meet with Interstate 30 through Little Rock. When the extension of Interstate 630 east to Interstate 30 was built, this arrangement changed to the current stack configuration. Many bridges built along this two-mile stretch have a plate with the date of construction occurring in 1979 or 1980.3
Although still two interchanges out from the terminus, Interstate 630 sees an Interstate 430 junction shield posted along the mainline. In the background is Exit 6B with Barrow Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 630 maintains six lanes through the Exit 6B diamond interchange at Barrow Road. Included on this sign bridge is the one-mile guide sign for Exit 8/Interstate 430. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
One half mile remains of Interstate 630 as it enters the Exit 7 trumpet interchange with Baptist Health Medical Center. Interstate 430 receives no control cities from Interstate 630. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Entering the Exit 8A/B cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 430 on Interstate 630 westbound. Traffic that does not depart for Interstate 430 defaults onto the Chenal Parkway through West Little Rock to Shady Grove. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Signal Ahead - Freeway Ends sign bridge for Interstate 630 westbound as it nears Exit 8B and the transition to Chenal Parkway. The traffic signal ahead is with the surface street Shackleford Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
The Exit 8B cloverleaf, the final off-ramp of Interstate 630, departs as guide signs prepares motorists for the upcoming intersection with Shackleford Road. Shackelford Road parallels Interstate 430 and links with West Markham Street to the north and Kanis Road to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Exit 8B gore point sign for Interstate 430 south at the cloverleaf ramp departure. The next southbound interchange Interstate 430 encounters is with the aforementioned Shackleford Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 430 north
A hazardous materials ban is in effect for all of Interstate 630 as the highway travels to the Little Rock central business district. A similar ban is in effect along Interstate 30 through the downtown area. Therefore Hazmat traffic interests must use Interstate 430 and 40 to bypass the city. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 430 northbound, one half mile to the south of the Interstate 630/Exit 6 cloverleaf interchange. The overpass above carries the east-west Kanis Road as it parallels Interstate 630 to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
A collector/distributor roadway system is in use for Interstate 430 to 630 traffic movements in both directions. This photo shows the Exit 6 c/d roadway beginning. Interstate 630 features the connections with Baptist Health Medical Center (Exit 7) and University Avenue (Exit 5) in addition to control city of Downtown Little Rock. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
(Exit 6A) for the eastbound beginning of Interstate 630 departs from the Interstate 430 c/d roadway. (Exit 6B) carries traffic westward onto Chenal Parkway. The first interchange of Interstate 630 is with the aforementioned Baptist Health Medical Center, one half mile to the east. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Perspective from Interstate 430 south
Exit 8 departs for Rodney Parham Road as Interstate 430 sees the first guide sign for Interstate 630 eastbound. Exit 8 is the second of six Little Rock city interchanges of Interstate 430. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 430 southbound expands to four lanes in preparation for the Interstate 630 western terminus interchange at Exit 6. Again the connections to Exit 5 and 8 are shown in conjunction with Downtown Little Rock on the associated guide sign of Interstate 630. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
A look at the Interstate 430/630 overheads eight years prior. The only noticeable difference is that the lighting fixtures and supports are no longer in place for the signs. Vidcap taken 05/28/95.
The southbound Exit 6 collector/distributor roadway departs just before the West Markham Street overpass. Interstate 430 meanwhile maintains six through lanes amid the Interstate 630 terminal cloverleaf interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
This night time view of the same set of signs shows the now removed lighting fixtures partially operational. Interstate 430 has three remaining mainline interchanges before concluding at Interstate 30: Exit 5/Shackleford Road, Exit 4/Arkansas 300/Colonel Glenn Road, and Exit 1/Arkansas 5/Old Stage Coach Road. Vidcap taken 05/28/95.
No Exit numbers are signed on the c/d roadway of Interstate 430 south. This is also the case on Interstate 430 north. Pictured here is what should be Exit 6B for the Chenal Parkway west and the associated connections via Shackelford Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Crossing over the Interstate 630 mainline beginning, the eastbound cloverleaf from Interstate 430 departs the southbound c/d roadway. The Arkansas State Capital complex is six miles to the east. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Just beyond Exit 1A, the last mainline interchange of Interstate 630, is this set of overheads for the terminus interchange at Interstate 30 and 15th Street. There are eight blocks of the downtown city street grid remaining for Interstate 630 to cut through before encountering the stack interchange of Exit 1 & 139A/B. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Two blocks east of the Center Street overpass Pictured above is a second set of Exit 1 and Exit 139A/B overheads. Similar to the southern terminus of Interstate 430, Interstate 630 utilizes the Interstate 30 exit number convention for its associated interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Exit 1 departs from Interstate 630 to East 15th Street. This surface street stems eastward from the Interstate 30/630 stack interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Continuing beyond the Exit 1 ramp departure is the Exit 139A/B partition for Interstate 30. Interstate 30 allows Downtown Little Rock traffic interests a route for statewide destinations such as Pine Bluff, Jacksonville, and Conway, through its associated area Interstate junctions. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Replaced button copy overheads and sign lighting apparatus at the Interstate 630 conclusion at the Exit 139A/B ramp split. Two lanes are still allocated for Interstate 30 east, even though new signage omits a second arrow to the left as this Exit 139A panel retained. Vidcap taken 05/28/95.
Perspective from Interstate 30 east
Just north of the Interstate 530/Interstate 430 joint terminus interchange, Interstate 30 encounters Exit 139A with Arkansas 365 - East Roosevelt Road. This interchange involves slip ramps to associated frontage roads. These frontage roads are present along Interstate 30 from Interstate 530/440 northward to West 3rd Street near Exit 141A. Exit 139B with Interstate 630 is 0.75 miles to the north at this point. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
At the East 21st Street overpass, a Exit 139B overhead indicates to motorists the lane allocation for Interstate 630 westbound. Exit 140 for 9th and 6th Streets departs Interstate 30 within the Interstate 630 stack interchange area. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 630 westbound commences with the Exit 139B flyovers in full view. Exit 140 departs ahead and represents a connector ramp to the northbound frontage road to East 9th and East 6th Streets. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Wintertime view of the Interstate 630 beginning from Interstate 30 east. Interstate 630 travels a depressed freeway throughout the Downtown area of Little Rock. A frontage road system is also in place to facilitate traffic movements via slip ramps to/from the freeway. Photo by Jeff Morrison (12/28/01).
Perspective from Interstate 30 west
Interstate 30 westbound crosses the Arkansas River from North Little Rock into Downtown Little Rock in this photograph. The first of three downtown interchanges departs in 0.25 miles for the westbound beginning of Arkansas 10/Cantrell Road. Also accessible from this interchange is Markham Street. This surface roadway is also featured on guide signs at the western terminus of Interstate 630. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Now just one half mile north of the Interstate 630 terminus interchange, Exit 141A for Arkansas 10 departs. The interchange with Cantrell Road is a trumpet with Interstate 30 descending to grade level on the southern perimeter of the junction. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Two more off-ramps await Interstate 30 westbound motorists before the freeway interacts with the eastern terminus of Interstate 630. Pictured here is Exit 140B for East 6th Street. This ramp begins the southbound frontage road system of Interstate 30. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/18/05).
At the East 6th Street overpass is the Exit 140A ramp departure for East 9th Street (the next overpass is 9th Street). Interstate 630 traffic interests are advised to keep right as the downtown freeway will depart just ahead. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 30 westbound widens to four lanes in preparation for the Interstate 630 westbound beginning via Exit 139B. Note that no control city of other point of interest is assigned to Interstate 630 from Interstate 30. The overpass above is that of East 9th Street. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Interstate 630 westbound parts ways with Interstate 30 westbound. Interstate 30 continues southward to Exit 139A/Arkansas 365 (the original U.S. 65 alignment). Beyond is Exit 138 where Interstate 30 sheds the hidden U.S. 65 and 167 via Interstate 530 south. It is standard practice for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) to not to sign the minor route involved in Interstate-U.S., U.S.-State, Interstate-State route overlaps. Thus U.S. 65, 67, and 167 are omitted on all Interstate 30 area signs through the Interstate 630 terminus interchange. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Passing underneath some of the flyovers associated with the Interstate 630 terminal interchange. The flyover above is the westbound beginning of Interstate 630 from Interstate 30 east. The ramp beyond is the 15th Street connector ramp from Interstate 630 eastbound Exit 1. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/03/03).
Little Rock Realtors Association - History, which states: "In the early 60's [Little Rock Realtor Association] Board Committees worked with the [Arkansas] Highway Department to minimize the problems associated with the widening of Highway #10, and worked with the City of Little Rock to provide appraisers needed to appraise properties along the proposed 8th Street Expressway (now known as I-630)."
Price, John; Personal Email, "RE: I-30 Little Rock/Benton 3-lane nears completion" (03/24/06)
Price, John; Personel Email, "I-630 Little Rock" (03/24/06)
"Big Rock Interchange Closer To Opening." Arkansas Matters.com (KARK), January 30, 2015.