I-555 shield. US 63 shield.

Future I-555: Lake David–Jonesboro, Arkansas

In the coming decade, the State of Arkansas plans to upgrade the existing U.S. 63 highway from I-55 at Turrell/Lake David to the U.S. 49 South exit in Jonesboro to full Interstate highway standards. When the work is done, the upgraded highway will be redesignated as Interstate 555. AHTD's January 2001 press release announcing the designation can be read online. Future I-555 Sign

Currently, 26 miles (42 km) of the highway is already built to Interstate standards, from U.S. 49 South (Southwest Drive/Exit 45) to just east of the St. Francis River near Marked Tree. The remaining 18 miles (29 km) are built as a four-lane expressway, with one existing interchange (at AR 75 in Marked Tree) and a number of at-grade intersections.

As part of the work to upgrade the highway, six separate projects will be designed and let by AHTD:

The next project to be designed is expected to be the I-55 interchange at Lake David, probably due to its relative complexity.

All projects are planned to be let by 2004. If all goes according to plans, I-555 should be complete and fully open to traffic by 2007 or 2008.

Next stop: Missouri?

Some have suggested that I-555 might eventually be extended to the northwest (along U.S. 63 to Hoxie) to connect with the U.S. 67 freeway extension; however, there are no official plans to that effect. Others have suggested an extension even further to the northwest, possibly as far as U.S. 60 or I-44 in Missouri.

AHTD is building an interchanges at Washington Avenue and AR 18 in Jonesboro. This would extend the U.S. 63 freeway (locally named the Joe N. Martin Expressway) further west, but would not affect I-555, which ends a couple of miles to the southeast at Exit 45.

AHTD is widening U.S. 63 northwest of Jonesboro to a four lane + center turn lane configuration (with a bypass on new location at Bono); however, this would not be sufficient for Interstate signing.

Connecting to Little Rock

Local officials are also planning to lobby to build an interstate spur from Jonesboro to the U.S. 67 freeway currently being extended north toward Pine Bluff, Missouri; according to this Jonesboro Sun article, an “Interstate 730” designation is requested for the route (anticipating that the U.S. 67 freeway would be renumbered I-30 upon its completion to I-55).

Whither U.S. 63?

No official plans have been shown for what will happen to existing U.S. 63. However, the 1999 U.S. 63 extension to Ruston, Louisiana suggests that AHTD plans to reroute U.S. 63 to more directly run from Jonesboro to I-40, possibly along the U.S. 49 corridor or along AR 1. However, any U.S. 63 rerouting is unlikely until after I-555 has been signed for a year or two, to avoid confusion.

Related Links

DISCLAIMER: This page is unofficial; its author is not affiliated with any transportation agency, including the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

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Chris Lawrence <chris@lordsutch.com> (29 Sep 2003 at 11:54 CDT)