Thousands of motorists in Northwest Arkansas didn’t take long to figure out just how much time the completed Bella Vista Bypass saves.
A map, created by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and shared with the Northwest Arkansas Council, shows the new portion of the bypass at the Missouri-Arkansas line averages 13,000 vehicles a day. Its existence has led to a reduction in how many people are using U.S. 71 to travel through Bella Vista.
The four-lane section of Interstate 49 around Bella Vista opened Oct. 1. Motorists say using the bypass shortens the drive to Kansas City by 20 to 30 minutes, and that makes sense because nine traffic signals on U.S. 71 in Bella Vista lead to frequent stops and congestion.
The bypass is now complete because the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission was successful in its effort to obtain a $25 million federal grant to finish a five-mile section of the roadway in Missouri.
The Northwest Arkansas Council supported the commission’s application, gathering letters of support from across Arkansas and Missouri, informing federal officials in Washington, D.C. about the importance of the two-state project, and pushed Missouri officials to prioritize the roadway’s completion.
The traffic counts collected by the Transportation Department show its truck drivers who are particularly fond of the new route. The number of truck drivers going through the city of Bella Vista has been reduced from more than 4,100 a day down to just over 500, the counts show. The vast majority have moved to the bypass.
Pictured above: McDonald County High School marching band at the Bella Vista Bypass ribbon cutting on September 30, 2021. Photo by Dan Holtmeyer.