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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Highway and Transportation Director Scott Bennett, surrounded by community leaders, cuts the ribbon on the top flyover lane at the dedication of the Big Rock Interchange on Interstates 430 and 630 in Little Rock on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - Photo by Danielle Kloap

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.

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  • DodieStraightUp
    July 8, 2015 at 11:52 a.m.

    Everything looks wonderful except for one major problem. The construction just created a massive bottleneck for all cars coming from Chenal headed to downtown. Busy Chenal (going East) has 2 lanes plus a lane from Shackleford ALL merging into 1 Lane before reaching I-630. No school yet but we already see some bottleneck during rush hours. Help!!!

  • RBBrittain
    July 8, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.

    @DodieStraightUp: The problem is there's only so much space to merge all the new lanes together. The two flyovers from I-430 must merge from two lanes each into two total; the ramps from Chenal & Shackleford go from two lanes to one just as they join the two flyover lanes. The flyovers are favored slightly because they're coming from an interstate; the Big Rock project was as much to relieve backups on I-430 (especially to & from the north, where morning commuters once used a single-lane cloverleaf ramp) as Chenal. Alleviating the merge issue requires widening I-630 from Baptist Health east to University, but that is set to be one of the last CAP (Issue 1) projects along with I-30 widening downtown.

  • RBBrittain
    July 8, 2015 at 12:24 p.m.

    It should also be noted that the flyover being dedicated today (from I-630 WB to I-430 SB) originally was NOT to be fully completed in this phase; for budget reasons only the piers & approach ramps were in the contract as bid. Only after AHTD found an extra $10M-plus in its budget was the contract (already AHTD's biggest ever at the time) modified to complete that flyover; otherwise it would have been deferred to CAP along with I-630 widening.

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