I-540 widening project to begin this summer

Vehicles pass between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Wedington Drive on Interstate 540 in Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

A widening project that will expand Interstate 540 from four to six lanes between Wedington Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is set to begin this summer.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department this week announced APAC-Central Inc. of Fayetteville was awarded the $5.8 million, 75-day contract to widen the 1.4-mile section.

The project is the first in a series of long-range I-540 improvements recommended in a 2006 Highway Department study. Other improvements include work at various interchanges between Fayetteville and Bella Vista.

Interchange work will be paid for with bonds approved by voters last November, but the state must look elsewhere for more widening funds.

A state proposal on this year’s ballot could allocate $125 million to widen six more sections of I-540 if voters approve a half-cent temporary sales tax increase in November.

“Our state’s commitment to widening I-540 is critical to reducing traffic congestion, improving quality of life and enhancing our region’s economic vitality,” said Mike Malone, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “A better I-540 makes Northwest Arkansas a better place.”

I-540 widening map

View I-540 widening – Summer 2012 in a larger map