Buc-ee’s off I-30 in Benton gains momentum with planning commission approval

Opening of Texas based Buc-ee’s travel center in Florence, S.C., in May 2022.
Opening of Texas based Buc-ee’s travel center in Florence, S.C., in May 2022.

No contract has yet been signed, and no construction timeline nor opening date has been announced, but the Benton Planning Commission has approved most of Buc-ee's plans for a first Arkansas location.

Matt Thibault, spokesman for Mayor Tom Farmer, said the commission approved plans for landscaping and parking at its meeting. Commissioners tabled a permit for signage as Buc-ee's engineers do not yet know precisely how tall the signs for the store will be, Thibault said.

"Are they making steps in the absolute right direction? Absolutely they are," he said. "They are actively working on [site plans, plotting] and permitting."


Proposed plans shared with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette are for a 76,500-square-foot retail building west of Interstate 30 ringed by parking for automobiles, buses and RVs, and fronted by three canopied fueling areas. Fuel tanks will be buried near the exit onto Arkansas 229/U.S. 67, and plans include lighting, landscaping and drainage systems into the property's periphery.

Buc-ee's corporate communications did not immediately return a request for comment.

News broke last summer that Buc-ee's was in discussions with the city to acquire 29 acres at Exit 144 south of Benton. Thibault said the company now has an agreement to purchase the land, which had a $2.25 million price last summer, that expires on Aug. 21.

Thibault said expectations are for 3 million annual visitors to Benton's Buc-ee's.

"We're super-excited about it, but we're cautiously optimistic," he said. "The tax revenue that this is going to bring in, the [advertising and promotion] tax money this is going to bring in, the tourism that this is going to bring in -- Buc-ee's is a destination for a lot of people. It's not just a gas station. People travel to visit Buc-ee's."

Essentially truck stops without trucks -- 18-wheelers are banned from using their fuel pumps -- Buc-ee's has attracted an enthusiastic fanbase. The stores sell brisket and fudge, in addition to other food items, souvenirs and branded merchandise, and outdoor equipment, and offer large bathrooms. Travel centers have dozens of gasoline pumps.

Founded in the Houston suburbs, privately owned Buc-ee's has expanded rapidly over the last 20 years, with locations sprouting up across the South after its first location outside of Texas opened in 2018. Local media sources report that the chain plans to open a location north of Denver, its first in Colorado, and another near Dayton, Ohio.

Arkansas Department of Transportation upgrades to I-30 in Saline County have been delayed, with lane closures and rough asphalt wearing upon truckers, commuters and other motorists. Work in Saline County is not expected to finish until next year, well after the original timeline. The state is suing the suburban Fort Worth contractor hired to do the work for not completing it within the contracted timeline.

Upcoming Events