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story.lead_photo.caption Guests gather Wednesday during a ribbon cutting for the first section of the future U.S. 412 Springdale Northern Bypass. - Photo by Ben Goff

SPRINGDALE -- State and local officials celebrated Wednesday completion of the first section of the U.S. 412 Northern Bypass significantly ahead of schedule.

The 4.5-mile stretch between Interstate 49 and Arkansas 112 will open for traffic when the barricades are removed April 30. It will be designated U.S. 612 for the time being.

At a glance

Start: Work on the project began in April 2015.

Length: 4.5 miles, including 1.5 miles of bridges.

Earth moved: Crews moved 5.5 million cubic yards of dirt.

Drainage: Crews placed about 2.5 miles of storm drains.

Cost: The contract was let at just more than $100 million.

Source: Arkansas Department of Transportation

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The ceremony was just west of Interstate 49 on the new road originally planned to open next summer.

The bypass is intended to relieve congestion through Springdale on West Sunset Avenue, South Thompson Street and West Robinson Avenue. Sunset and Robinson are the city's main east-west route. About 38,000 cars a day use West Sunset, according to a recent highway department study.

Eutaw Construction of Aberdeen, Miss., is the contractor and finished 75 days early to earn about $1.5 million in incentives, or $19,800 per day. The project cost about $100.3 million.

Scott Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said the agency's incentive program was responsible for moving the project along.

"We need to make sure we're going as fast as possible and still doing quality work because of the impact to the traveling public," Bennett said. "We want to make sure we're being accountable and by the same token, if they finish late, there are disincentives. But, this is one where the contractor will get an incentive for finishing this job early."

The new road is a divided highway with 14 bridges and interchanges at Arkansas 112, just north of Marchant Road and Carrie Smith Road, and I-49 between Springdale's Wagon Wheel Road and West Monroe Avenue in Lowell.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said transportation improvements such as the bypass are critical to maintaining a high quality of life.

"The growth in Northwest Arkansas and this part of the state continues, and we cannot be behind the curve in terms of upgrading and adding highways and infrastructure," Griffin said. "We have to be ahead of it because there's no indication that the growth is going to slow down. It's going to keep on coming."

Dick Trammel, chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission and a Rogers resident, said money from the 10-year, half-percent state sales tax approved by voters in November 2012 is paying for the road.

"Because of you, we have better highways," said Trammel, whose 10-year term ends later this year. "We've got the funding because you stepped up."

Trammel also recognized former Highway Commissioner Bobby Hopper, who attended the event.

"Bobby Hopper is the father of highways in Arkansas," Trammel said. "If Bobby hadn't had the vision of I-49 years and years ago, where would we be today?"

The bypass eventually will extend to the west and curve south to connect with U.S. 412 near Tontitown. That section has been added to a list of planned Transportation Department projects for 2021 and 2022 with about $28 million tentatively budgeted to purchase right of way.

"I've got nine more years on the commission," said Philip Taldo, the newest highway commissioner and a Springdale resident. "My main focus in Northwest Arkansas is going to be the completion of this bypass."

The eastern half of the bypass will connect to U.S. 412 near Sonora, east of Springdale, but money hasn't been appropriated for that part of the project.

Photo by Ben Goff
The 4.5-mile section of four-lane divided highway through Benton County connects Interstate 49 to Arkansas 112.
Photo by Ben Goff
People gather Wednesday in Springdale to celebrate the completion of the first section of the U.S. 412 Northern Bypass.

NW News on 04/19/2018

Print Headline: Section of 412 bypass completed, opens soon

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