BELLA VISTA, Ark. —
Work will soon begin on the next phase of the Bella Vista bypass, a six-mile stretch from Arkansas Highway 72 southeast of Hiwasse to U.S. Highway 71 in Bentonville, according to Randy Ort, spokesman for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
A Missouri company, Kolb Grading, of Weldon Spring, is the low bidder for the project, submitting a bid of nearly $52.7 million. Kolb also is the prime contractor on that section of the bypass from Highway 72 north to Benton County Road 34, which is to be completed by year’s end.
Upon completion of the six-mile segment, the new roadway will be open from Highway 71 to County Road 34 on the west side of Bella Vista.
Two more contracts are needed to complete the initial two lanes of Arkansas’ 15-mile share of the bypass. One will complete the full interchange at Highway 71 in Bentonville and the second will extend north from County Road 34 to the Missouri state line.
Missouri must still build its five-mile share of the bypass, which will head straight south out of Pineville, Mo., to connect with Arkansas’ portion at the state line.
The bids that were opened last week by the state highway department are the first under the new Connecting Arkansas Program (CAP), a 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment that authorizes a statewide 10-year, half-cent sales tax.
Thirty-one projects covering approximately 180 miles of highway will be funded by the tax, representing an estimated $1.8 billion investment in the Arkansas highway system.
“Northwest Arkansas is proud and excited that the first CAP job is another section of the Bella Vista Bypass,’’ Dick Trammel, of Rogers, an Arkansas highway commissioner, said recently in a statement announcing the next phase.
The Bella Vista Bypass is a multi-phased project to construct a new highway that will extend approximately 20 miles between Highway 71 in Bentonville and Interstate 49 at Pineville. Interstate 49 will run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Much of the bypass is initially being built as a two-lane highway that will be upgraded eventually to four lanes.
The first phase of the Bella Vista Bypass was a $20 million contract awarded in February 2011 to APAC-Central for work on two lanes around Hiwasse. A second contract was awarded in May 2012 for $13.5 million to continue work from Hiwasse to County Road 34.
Keeping up with CAP
A new Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department website has been developed to inform the public about progress of the Connecting Arkansas Program. ConnectingArkansasProgram.com provides an overview of the efforts and includes project descriptions, maps and general schedules.