Interstate 40 or I -40 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Arkansas. The highway runs west to east through the center of the state, from Fort Smith on the Oklahoma border to West Memphis on the Tennessee border. The route is 457 kilometers long.
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Near the town of Fort Smith, I-40 crosses the Arkansas border. Interstate 40 in Oklahoma comes from Oklahoma City. Fort Smith has a population of 83,000 and is the second largest city in Arkansas. A suburb of Fort Smith is Van Buren, and that’s where I-40 comes through. It crosses Interstate 540, which runs north from Fort Smith to Fayetteville. It’s a fast connection to Kansas City. The highway passes with 2×2 lanes through hilly area. US 64 runs parallel to the highway. The highway also runs parallel to the Arkansas River, which is quite large here, and is an important tributary of the Mississippi. The landscape consists of low hills with regular forests and meadows. The Arkansas River is dammed here, and is sometimes several miles wide. The I-40 runs directly past these lakes in some places.
You pass Russellville, a regional town with 26,000 inhabitants. From here you can enter the forests of the Ozark National Forest, and the Ouachita National Forest via several roads. A somewhat larger town on the route is Conway, which has a population of 52,000. Here, I-40 turns south, and US 64 continues straight toward Beebe, a town on US 67, the highway from Little Rock to Jonesboro. I-40 then has 2×3 lanes and crosses a number of ridges, reaching Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas.
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I-40 at Little Rock.
One enters the city from the northwest. Little Rock has 184,000 inhabitants, with an agglomeration of 650,000 inhabitants. First, one crosses Interstate 430, the city’s western bypass, which leads to Interstate 30, which goes to Texarkana and Dallas. From here, the highway has 2×3 lanes. North of downtown, Interstate 30 ends at I-40. From here, one can also go directly to Pine Bluff to the south, via Interstate 530. Little Rock has a good highway network, and also has few traffic jams. The US 67. turns into a business parkoff to the northeast, the highway to Jonesboro. All the way to the east of the city, one eventually crosses Interstate 440, the eastern bypass.
I-40 in West Memphis.
US 70 now runs parallel to I-40, which came from Hot Springs and southern Oklahoma. Eastern Arkansas is flatter, with slightly fewer forests. One crosses several tributaries of the Arkansas, and then enters the plains of the Mississippi. At Brinkley you cross the US 49, which leads from Helena to Jonesboro. The highway just has 2×2 lanes here in the countryside. At the town of Forrest City there is an important intersection with State Route 1, which has been expanded here over several lanes. One then crosses a short ridge, and then enters the Mississippi River basin. One then arrives at West Memphis, a suburb of Memphis, which is located in Tennessee.
Here Interstate 55 heads north toward Saint Louis. Barely a few miles away, I-55 turns back toward Jackson and New Orleans. The I-40 then has 2×3 lanes, and via the Hernando de Soto Bridge you cross the mighty Mississippi River, which is more than a kilometer wide here. From the bridge you have a view over the skyline of Memphis. The river also forms the border with Tennessee, and Interstate 40 in Tennessee continues to Memphis and Nashville.
The predecessor to I-40 was US 64 between the Oklahoma and Little Rock border, and US 70 between Little Rock and the Tennessee border.
The first section of Interstate 40 to open was in eastern Arkansas, a stretch near West Memphis, which also includes I-55. On November 30, 1962, the interchange between I-30 and I-40 in North Little Rock opened to traffic, allowing traffic from I-30 to US 67, which included only 2 miles of I-40. In 1965, I-40 was more or less ready through the Little Rock region. The highway was then built at a rapid pace during the 1960s. In about 1966, the north-south section of I-40 between Conway and Little Rock opened to traffic. By 1970, almost all of I-40 through Arkansas was completed, only between Mulberry and Clarksville in western Arkansas, a 31-mile section was missing until 1972. The capstone of I-40 through Arkansas was the Hernando de Soto Bridge.across the Mississippi River at Memphis which opened on August 2, 1973, completing I-40 in Arkansas.
Between 2003 and 2006, I-40 was widened to 2×3 lanes in Little Rock, between I-430 and I-30 on the north side of town. In 2013-2014, I-40 through Conway was widened to 2×3 lanes, and in 2014-2015 the section between Conway and Little Rock.
|Exit 277 I-55 (West Memphis)||Exit 279 I-55||3 km||1960|
|Exit 271 Lehi||Exit 277 I-55 (West Memphis)||10 km||1962|
|Exit 153 I-30 (North Little Rock)||Exit 155 US 67 (North Little Rock)||3 km||1962|
|Exit 148 Crystal Hill||Exit 153 I-30 (North Little Rock)||8 km||1965|
|Exit 155 US 67 (North Little Rock)||Exit 175 Lonoke||32 km||1965|
|Exit 0 Oklahoma state line||Exit 7 I-540 (Van Buren)||11 km||1966|
|Exit 55 Clarksville (west)||Exit 84 Russellville (east)||47 km||1966|
|Exit 135 Mayflower||Exit 148 Crystal Hill||24 km||1966|
|Exit 175 Lonoke||Exit 193 Hazen||29 km||1966|
|Exit 239 Forrest City (west)||Exit 247 Widener||13 km||1966|
|Exit 7 I-540 (Van Buren)||Exit 20 Dyer||21 km||1967|
|Exit 129 Conway (south)||Exit 135 Mayflower||10 km||1967|
|Exit 265 Jennette||Exit 271 Lehi||10 km||1967|
|Exit 20 Dyer||Exit 24 Mulberry||6 km||1968|
|Exit 84 Russellville (east)||Exit 94 Atkins||16 km||1968|
|Exit 193 Hazen||Exit 202 Fredonia||14 km||1968|
|Exit 216 Brinkley||Exit 239 Forrest City (west)||37 km||1968|
|Exit 125 US 65 (Conway)||Exit 129 Conway (south)||6 km||1969|
|Exit 202 Fredonia||Exit 216 Brinkley||23 km||1969|
|Exit 247 Widener||Exit 265 Jennette||29 km||1969|
|Exit 94 Atkins||Exit 125 US 65 (Conway)||50 km||1970|
|Exit 24 Mulberry||Exit 35 Ozark||18 km||1971|
|Exit 35 Ozark||Exit 55 Clarksville (west)||32 km||1972|
|Exit 279 I-55||Exit 284 Tennessee state line||8 km||1973|
14,900 vehicles cross the Oklahoma border every day. This rises to 34,300 at Van Buren. The rest of the route to Little Rock has between 20,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day, and is fairly quiet. Only between Conway and Little Rock is it a bit busier with 60,000 vehicles. In Little Rock, 79,000 vehicles travel between I-430 and I-30, then 117,000 until US 67 exits. After that, the intensity already drops to 32,400 vehicles. From West Memphis it is a bit busier, the double numbering with I-55 has 67,300 vehicles, and 36,000 vehicles cross the border into Tennessee every day.
|Exit 0||Exit 147||2×2|
|Exit 125||Exit 153||2×3||Conway-Little Rock|
|Exit 153||Exit 155||2×4||Little Rock|
|Exit 155||Exit 280||2×2|
|Exit 280||Exit 282||2×3||Memphis|