Posted 12/17/2012 12:00 am
Conway is the secondary job market for the entire central Arkansas metro area. Moving products and people efficiently within this regional economy has a profound impact on the city’s long-term success.
Interstate 40 Expansion
No roadway affects commerce in central Arkansas more than Interstate 40. This year, the section of interstate between Conway and Little Rock began to receive its largest investment since its construction more than five decades ago.
Interstate 40 will become a six-lane roadway from Highway 54 (exit 125) to I-430. The additional capacity will make travel within the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), particularly morning commutes, much more efficient.
The New Conway Airport
After years of planning, dirt finally began moving at the site of a new airport for the city of Conway. The $25 million project is located in the Lollie Bottoms area in the southwest corner of the city. Once opened, the new airport will replace Conway’s existing airport in the center of town. The new airport will include a longer runway (5,500 feet) and is located in an area that can accommodate neighboring aviation and commercial needs.
Plans call for the new airport to begin service in August 2014. Once flights transition to the new airport, the existing 180-acre site will offer an exciting, development opportunity in Conway’s commercial center.
A newly opened, 10-mile, four-lane highway now allows travelers to bypass the city of Vilonia as they make the trip between Highway 167 in Beebe and Interstate 40 in Conway.
It’s a section of Highway 64 in high demand for freight-hauling tractor trailers. Formerly, traffic passed through the commercial center of Vilonia and its residential areas and schools.
The new bypass serves as an “express lane” for vehicles just passing through eastern Faulkner County and shaves significant time off the trip. The $50 million project opened in October 2011.
The Southern Interchange
Faulkner County has added almost 100,000 residents since it last added an exit to Interstate 40. The result has been growing pressure on interstate exits, local streets and highways. The remedy to those problems is already underway. A new, full-service interstate exit is planned for Interstate 40. The exit will be in southern Faulkner County near mile marker 132. The interchange will relieve pressure from the Dave Ward Drive exit, serve The Meadows Technology Park (home to Hewlett-Packard) and stimulate development in southern Conway. Construction on the $28 million project is scheduled to begin in 2013.
Growth may be the norm in Conway. It has been for decades. However, sustained economic growth cannot be taken for granted. It takes planning, preparation and resources. These projects represent Conway’s commitment to quality growth, first class infrastructure and a secure economy. They are an investment in Conway’s long-term success that all residents will soon enjoy.