Delegations from the Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce, Mena/Polk County Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce met to discuss the final stages of completion of Interstate 49 from Texarkana to Fort Smith. Slightly over 200 miles of interstate highway development remain to complete the 1700 mile corridor from New Orleans to Winnipeg, Canada. The highway, providing a safer transportation network and directly affecting 12 states, is expected to expand economic development including jobs, business opportunities and tourism development.
The Chambers met to discuss the next stages to complete the highway. Attending from Fort Smith were Tim Allen, Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce President, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, Billy B. Dooly, Fort Smith, Carl E. Geffken, Fort Smith City Administrator, Cory Floyd, Texarkana Chamber Chairman of the Board, Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce, Curt Green, Interstate 49 International Coalition, Gard Wayt, Executive Director, Interstate 49 International Coalition, Michael Malone, President, Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce, and Gar Eisele, Vice President of the Interstate 49 International Coalition and the Mena/Polk County Chamber of Commerce from Mena, Arkansas. The productive meeting resulted in a common agreement to encourage forward actions on the project. Focus is on the Interstate – 49 bridge over the Arkansas River at Fort Smith and the initiation of acquiring right of ways to further the highway through Arkansas.
Interstate 49 is the Congressionally-designated High Priority Corridor # 1 that will connect Kansas City and New Orleans; connecting in Kansas City with I-29 North, it will create a 1700 – mile uninterrupted Interstate Highway from Winnipeg, Canada, through the heart of America to New Orleans – – and through the port system of Louisiana, to Central and South America where trade and traffic are expected to triple in the next decade with expansion of the Panama Canal.
From Winnipeg, going South, this Interstate trade route intersects existing East – West Interstates I-94 (Fargo), I-90 (Sioux Falls), I-80 (Omaha), I-70 (Kansas City), I-44 (Joplin), I-40 (Fort Smith), I-30 (Texarkana), I-20 (Shreveport), and I-10