Construction of a portion of the planned Bella Vista Bypass is the first project to be funded under a sales-tax increase approved by Arkansas voters in 2012.
State highway officials said Wednesday that they've opened bids on the next phase of the bypass, which creates a new highway between U.S. 71 in Bentonville and Interstate 49 in Pineville, Mo. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said the lowest bid came in at $52 million for the project.
Two more contracts will be needed to complete the initial two lanes of the bypass.
The project is the first to be funded under a half-cent sales tax that's expected to pay for $1.8 billion in improvements to Arkansas highways. The tax took effect last July and will expire by 2023.