Route Set For Arkansas Portion of Interstate 69

Wed July 05, 2006 - Southeast Edition

LITTLE ROCK (AP) A route for Interstate 69 that takes the planned highway south of Monticello and Warren and north of Hermitage has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration, state highway officials said.

The approval allows the state agency to begin design and eventual construction of the 103-mi. (166 km) segment, estimated to cost $784 million.

“The public now has a good idea of exactly where this highway will eventually be built,” said Dan Flowers, director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

The section running from U.S. 65 just north of McGehee to U.S. 82 west of El Dorado is part of a proposed 2,700-mi. (4,345 km) highway from Mexico to Canada, the result of the North America Free Trade Agreement.

Officials said the next step will be more-detailed highway design work. During that process, they said, meetings will be held along the route to gather public input and show residents in detail what property will be affected, and how.

Once a design is complete, right-of-way appraisal and acquisition can begin, followed by construction when funding becomes available, the department said.

No target date for the beginning of construction has been set.