Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department officials and community and business leaders gathered Wednesday at the Big Rock Interchange to dedicate the almost completed construction project.
The interchange at Interstate 430 and Interstate 630 in Little Rock underwent a nearly $150 million makeover in three phases over six years to ease congestion for the 200,000 vehicles that use it daily.
Highway and Transportation Department Director Scott Bennett said the top flyover of the interchange should be open by this weekend.
"We appreciate all the cooperation [from drivers]," Bennett said. "We know that any time you undertake a project this big, it's hard to control traffic. … This was a big project."
When I-430 and I-630 were constructed in the 1970s, about 14,000 vehicles a day traveled down each interstate, Bennett said.
In 2004, the Highway and Transportation Department started studying improvements to the interchange. The first of three phases started in January 2009 to construct an additional I-630 west to I-430 north lane, modify Financial Centre Parkway just west of Shackleford Road and add a traffic signal at Hermitage Drive.
The second phase involved preparing the interchange for future work, including lengthening the I-430 bridge over I-630.
The third phase included completing the flyover lanes at the Big Rock Interchange.
"The project couldn't have been a success without everyone who traveled through here every day cooperating with us," Bennett said.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola told the gathered crowd that the road network the interchange provides is important to the city.
"We've got to have that kind of connectivity," he said. "It's good for business, it's good for our citizens and, most importantly, it's good to be safe."
Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department officials passed out pieces of the rock formation that inspired the name of the interchange. A rock estimated to be 5 million pounds was uncovered during the construction of the interchange, and a part of that rock is still in place, Bennett said.
See Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.