Why is I-49 being used as the designation instead of I-29 or I-35?
Congress designated the I-49 corridor from Kansas City to Shreveport, La., in federal transportation legislation, and the corridor will connect to existing I-49 between Shreveport and Lafayette in Louisiana.
Plus, I-49 fits within the Interstate naming conventions of north/south interstates utilizing odd numbers, with the assigned numbers growing higher as they move from west to east.
In Missouri, I-49 falls between existing I-35 in Kansas and Oklahoma and I-55 in eastern Missouri and Illinois.
What needs to be done to upgrade US 71 to I-49 between KC and Joplin?
Remove all remaining at-grade intersections by constructing interchanges, overpasses and outer roads as necessary.
The anticipated improvements (overall: seven interchanges, four overpasses, one set of outer roads):
Cass County -- Two overpasses and one interchange
Bates County -- One interchange and one set of outer roads
Vernon County -- Five interchanges and one overpass
Barton County -- One overpass
(CUTLINE): Traffic moves steadily through the recently completed US 71/Route 126 interchange in Barton County. With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), work is complete or nearing completion on converting at-grade crossings to interchanges along US 71 at Route 126, Route DD/EE, Route V-C, and Route 52E. Upcoming improvements are in Cass, Bates, Vernon and Barton counties. Eliminating at-grade crossings along US 71 is a part of upgrading the highway to interstate standards.
Why is the I-49 designation important?
We believe the interstate designation enhances economic opportunities for the state. A major factor in the decision-making process for locating businesses is access to quality transportation, particularly interstate highways.
The I-49 designation will ensure this factor is not an obstacle for the communities along the US 71 corridor between Kansas City and Joplin. Plus, the I-49 designation benefits Kansas City’s development as an “inland port” for the flow of freight throughout the country, and it serves the traditional
trucking hub in Joplin.
Traffic on the US 71 corridor between KC and Joplin already consists of 30 percent trucks.
Will I-49 follow the existing US 71 route? Why isn’t MO 249 being incorporated into the I-49 corridor?
The I-49 corridor will follow the existing alignment of US 71 from I-435 at the Grandview Triangle in Kansas City to I-44 at Fidelity in Jasper County.
The utilization of the current MO 171/MO 249 corridor as an interstate is not possible due to the presence of stopping conditions (traffic signals) at the ramps of the US 71/MO 171/MO 96 interchange near Carthage.
The solution to make the MO 171/MO 249 corridor interstate compatible requires substantial additional funding and a location study consisting of extensive public involvement. Both are likely many years into the future.
Why switch focus from Bella Vista Bypass to KC-to-Joplin segment?
The MHTC committed funding in 2005 in anticipation of Arkansas having the funding to move forward
with a four-lane Bella Vista bypass.
Five years later, that funding remains unused and Arkansas only has enough funding to move forward with a two-lane bypass over the next six years. The commission believes it should capitalize on the opportunity to bring I-49 to Missouri by using part of the funding to upgrade the segment between KC and Joplin, while still matching the progress Arkansas makes on the Bella Vista bypass.
Was the KC-to-Joplin segment Missouri’s priority all along?
No. The MHTC initially committed the funding for the Bella Vista bypass. However, after learning of funding shortfalls in Arkansas, in 2008 the
commission and MoDOT began preparing for the possibility of utilizing the funding between Kansas City and Joplin if Arkansas was unable to resolve its funding issues.
After holding the funding for five years and only after Arkansas announced that it would be able to move forward with only a two-lane Bella Vista bypass over the next six years, the commission decided to shift part of the funding to the KC-to-
If Arkansas had the funding to construct the four-lane Bella Vista bypass, Missouri
would be moving forward with that project. The right of way is acquired and the plans are ready.