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Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Like a child eager to get to the destination, the question hangs in the air in Southwest Missouri.

Are we there yet?


In this case, the end of the journey is the long-sought and long-awaited Bella Vista bypass, which is scheduled for completion this fall.

It has been decades in the making, with setbacks in both Arkansas and Missouri through the years, but the bypass, also known as the Interstate 49 Missouri-Arkansas Connector, is nearing completion. On the Missouri side, work is about 70% complete, officials told us recently; the Missouri Highway 90 bridge over I-49 is now complete, and major grading should be done this month. Missouri is on track to have its work done by Sept. 30; Arkansas has to add two lanes and an interchange at Bentonville and is planning on an October-November completion.

The project will tie Southwest Missouri to one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and is sure to lead to additional economic and community development in McDonald, Newton and Barry counties. That will mean more jobs, increased tax revenue and easier access to everything Northwest Arkansas offers, from museums to the Razorbacks to the Razorback Greenway to ... well, you name it.

Primarily, of course, the bypass will mean safer, faster, more efficient travel, as it will relieve congestion, headaches and hazards along that stretch of highway through Jane and Bella Vista.

Getting here has not been easy. It has taken persistence and cooperation from state and federal politicians on both sides of the line, as well as the support of regional planning commissions and regional councils, numerous chambers, the business community and countless local leaders.

Are we there yet?

Not quite, but we’re so close you can see it now.

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