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Lawmakers have been working since the 1970s to turn a 44 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 63 into Interstate 555.  KASU News has been following the development of this once-in-a-lifetime story and it's impact on Northeast Arkansas.

Arkansas Highway Commission Starts I-555 Process

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In anticipation of the signing of the federal highway bill into law, the Arkansas Highway Commission has approved a Minute Order that starts the process of creating the new I-555. 

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department tells KASU news the process started 40 years ago, when Highway 63 was turned into the Jonesboro bypass project. 

40 years and $250 million later, the highway is now up to interstate standards—except for a two lane frontage road across the St. Francis River Floodway that could be used by farm equipment. 

Tucked into the new highway bill is language that would exempt farm vehicles.  The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will review existing safety protocols for that section of I-555. 

The US House and Senate conference committees approved the bill, and it goes to the full House and Senate for votes before it goes to President Obama’s desk, where he is expected to sign it this week. 

The new I-555 will consist of 44 miles from Highway 49 in Jonesboro to I-55 in Crittenden County. It could be officially designated as I-555 next year.