Interstate 630 stretches across the city of Little Rock from the western suburbs to University Park, Forest Hills, Capital View and Downtown. The western end is the Big Rock Interchange, named for a large rock formation unearthed during 2009-15 reconstruction of the exchange with I-430 and Chenal Parkway. The eastern terminus at I-30 and 15th Street lies between MacArthur Park and the Hanger Hill Historic District. An 880 foot long viaduct spans the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad, Thayer and Rice Streets at Capitol Hill. East from there, I-630 drops below grade to the south of the Arkansas State Capitol.
Interstate 630 (Wilbur D. Mills Freeway) was constructed along the proposed alignment of the “Eighth Street Expressway.”1 Construction began in the 1960s, with the initial section completed between Cedar/Pine Streets and the viaduct across the UP Railroad by 1971. The succeeding segment extended I-630 west to University Avenue by 1976.
The eastern end of I-630 temporarily connected with Maryland Avenue / 9th Street east and 8th Street west at Park Street in the Capital Hill neighborhood. 8th Street constituted a one-way, westbound street with three lanes. 9th Street flowed eastbound with three lanes one block to the south. The couplet carried the bulk of traffic to Interstate 30. Construction of I-630 directly replaced a portion of 8th Street east from Park Street. Bridges spanning the two mile stretch between Park Street and I-30 were date stamped in 1979 or 1980.2
When Interstate 630 was built west from University Avenue to I-430 at Shackleford Road, the freeway concluded at a signalized T-intersection across from a stand of trees. Financial Centre Parkway and the two office complexes that make up Financial Centre west of Shackleford Road were yet to be built.3
When Financial Centre was developed in the early 1980s, a short segment of Financial Centre Parkway opened west from I-630 and Shackleford Road. The extension west to Rock Creek Parkway (since renamed Chenal Parkway) was built by the early 1990s. Chenal Parkway was eventually extended to Arkansas 10.3
Plans to modify the dangerous intersection at the west end of I-630 advanced during the 2005-2006 time frame.3 This led to the six-year long Big Rock Interchange project. $150-million in work upgraded the former cloverleaf interchange between I-430 and I-630 with new flyover ramps while adding overpasses above Shackleford Road linking with Financial Centre Parkway.4 Additional work added collector distributor roadways along I-630 east to the interchange (Exit 7) for Baptist Health Medical Center. interchange along I-630 with new collector distributor roadways. Work wrapped up with a dedication ceremony held on July 8, 2015.5