TEXARKANA -- Leadership of a group that works to secure funding to compete Interstate 49 met recently with a U.S. Senator in Louisiana to discuss strategy.
I-49 International Coalition President Curt Green and Executive Director Gard Wayt met recently in Baton Rouge with Louisiana's senior U.S. Sen. Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) to discuss the status of I-49 in Louisiana and Arkansas.
Green is a Texarkana businessman and developer who has long championed I-49.
The main topic of discussion was potential funding from the recently-passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to finish I-49 in Louisiana and Arkansas.
The biggest remaining gap in I-49 is a 139 mile stretch between Texarkana and Fort Smith, Arkansas. It has been dubbed "The Missing Link," by officials and proponents who want to complete the route.
Another 13-mile segment, between Barling and Alma, Arkansas, is scheduled for completion beginning this fall, and will finish the connection from Fort Smith north to Canada by way of I-49 and I-29 -- and to Duluth, Minnesota and the Great Lakes by way of I-49 and I-35.
There is also a 3.5-mile Inner-City Connector remaining to be completed in Shreveport, Louisiana; a 5.5-mile Inner-City Connector in Lafayette, Louisiana; and four segments totaling 60 miles to be completed between Lafayette and New Orleans.
The completion of these remaining segments in Arkansas and Louisiana, totaling 221 miles, will create a 1,700-mile International Trade Corridor from Canada through the heart of America to New Orleans and the other Gulf Coast ports -- and to Central/South America and points worldwide through the expanded Panama Canal.
Along the way, this North-South Interstate corridor will intersect nine existing East-West Interstates, creating a comprehensive transportation grid that will enhance movement of food, goods, energy and people to and from anywhere in Mid-America and the rest of the world.
Cassidy received an I-49 Information package showing the significant improvements in transportation that will result nationally when I-49 is finished. (The 1,700-mile "Mid-America Connector" is currently 87% complete.)
Cassidy stated his belief that the completion of I-49 will be a major economic boost to North Louisiana, Western Arkansas and all of Mid-America. The I-49 International Coalition will continue to work with Senator Cassidy, his staff and his Congressional colleagues to promote funding to finish I-49.
The I-49 Coalition includes cities, counties, Chambers of Commerce, associations, businesses and individuals throughout Mid-America. They work with federal, state and local officials toward the earliest possible completion of I-49.
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