Interstate 530 is a direct result of the “Dickey Split” compromise, which proposed access to the Interstate 69 / NAFTA corridor from Pine Bluff.1 The southern extension of Interstate 530 parallels U.S. 425 to the west from Star City to Monticello. Originating in Pine Bluff, U.S. 425 was commissioned in 1989. The interim designation is Arkansas 530.
Initial sections of the I-530 corridor south from Pine Bluff were to be built as at-grade expressways with two lanes.1 The first section of Arkansas 530 opened between U.S. 278 and Arkansas 35 near the city of Wilmar on June 6, 2006.2
The I-530 Extension south to the future I-69 corridor in southeastern Arkansas was estimated to cost at least $300 million in 2003. Construction of the 38-mile route was projected to begin at both at Pine Bluff and Monticello. Early funding for I-530 diverted money from a $30 million widening project for nearby U.S. 425 for construction along I-530, U.S. 65 and U.S. 167.3 Another $84 million from a $100 million appropriation from Congress was assigned to an area near Pinebergen for a four lane segment of highway.1
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), predecessor to ArDOT, projected as many as 8,600 vehicles per day (vpd) along the 4.5 mile section of Highway 530 in Drew County. Traffic counts further north were projected between 26,100 to 32,600 vpd once the highway reached Pine Bluff.3 Costs were estimated at $620 million to complete the three remaining sections of I-530 between U.S. 278 and Pine Bluff in 2008.4
Further lengthening of Interstate 530 beyond Monticello was promoted as part of the campaign for John “Jock” Scott, a Republican candidate for the fifth district of the U.S. Congress in Louisiana in the 2004 election. Promoting the potential for economic growth, Scott made extending I-530 south from Arkansas to Monroe and Alexandria one of the fundamental tenets of his campaign.5
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.