WASHINGTON – A provision authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that enables Arkansas to designate a portion of Highway 67, from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge, as “Future I-57” was included in the Fiscal Year 2017 funding that recently became law.
“The presence of an official interstate highway is one of the key factors that developers consider when determining where to make major investments, such as building new factories. This designation is an important step to make Arkansas a better-connected state that is open for business,” Boozman said in a press release Thursday, June 1.
Arkansas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Highway 67 an interstate-quality road, the release said. This provision provides the state the ability to request that any segment of the road that is built to interstate standards be officially added to the federal interstate system as “I-57.”
Resolutions of support for the I-57 designation have been passed by the Newport Economic Development Commission as well as Chambers of Commerce in Bald Knob, Cabot, Jacksonville, Lawrence County, Newport, Sherwood and Searcy.
State and local officials from along the corridor shared their support for this important step in the process toward bringing this portion of Highway 67 into the interstate-highway system.
Scott E. Bennett, Director of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department:
“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Boozman in bringing the designation of the U.S. 67 corridor as an Interstate one step closer to reality. This is recognition of the tremendous investment the Department has made to build U.S. 67 to interstate standards from I-40 to U.S. 412 at Walnut Ridge. Although there is still much work to be done north of U.S. 412, this ‘Future I-57’ designation should open up more possibilities for economic development along this important corridor.”
Alec Famer, Arkansas Highway Commission member:
“This is a prime example of the state and federal delegation working arm in arm for Arkansas citizens. This designation will play a vital role in economic development that will benefit people across state. I thank Senator Boozman for leading this effort.”
Mark Young, President of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce:
“Jonesboro is close to the U.S. 67 corridor and completing this vital interstate connector between Dallas and Chicago will benefit our community, Northeast Arkansas and the State. Our chamber strongly supports I-57 and we appreciate Senator Boozman’s work to secure this designation.”
Buck Layne, President of the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce:
“We are tremendously grateful to Senator Boozman for his leadership and hard work in securing the ‘Future I-57’ designation for U.S. 67 from Little Rock to Walnut Ridge. Building out this critical component of the Interstate system, which will bring new economic opportunities for our area and the state, has been many decades in the making. It is hard to believe that we will see ‘Future I-57’ signs appearing very soon!”
Jon Chadwell, Executive Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission:
“Industry often uses proximity to an interstate as a screening criterion, which prevents our area from competing for new factories. I will put Newport up against any community but I have not had a full set of economic development tools available to do so because we simply have not been on the interstate map system. Senator Boozman’s language puts us one step closer to changing that and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
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