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Officials say completed I-49 will benefit traffic safety - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Officials say completed I-49 will benefit traffic safety

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TEXARKANA, Ark. -

Highway 71 between Texarkana and Shreveport is not just one of the busiest highways in north Louisiana, but it's also one of the most deadly.
    
While another section completed on I-49 means even less travel on Highway 71, road planners say the safest interstate will be the completed one.

"We're going to become a traffic center for just about everything, we're going to have three interstates, one going through and two stopping here," said Curt Green, I-49 International Coalition President.
 
Green is excited about the possibilities I-49 will bring to Texarkana, but he's also concerned about travel safety if the project isn't entirely completed.

"If we can not take I-49 North, I'm concerned that I-30 can't handle the traffic," said Green.

I-49, that will connect New Orleans to Canada, is about 80 percent complete with the largest gap between Texarkana and Fort Smith.
    
It cost about $2.8 billion dollars to complete the interstate in Arkansas.    

Meanwhile, Green says Highway 71, which is mostly two lanes, is a bad highway for accidents and I-49's eventual completion from Texarkana to Shreveport will definitely make a difference in traffic safety.
    
However, he believes motorists will not benefit from the safest roadway possible without a 100% completed interstate.   

"If they can't come through here, they have to go another route, explained Green. "The longer they are on the road to get somewhere the more dangerous it is, the more gas they use, the more tires they wear out. The shortest route is always the quickest, the safest and least expensive."

The 4.5 mile section between Doddridge to Louisiana line is expected to be completed by next Summer or early Fall.
    
Highway officials say there is not a completion date set for the rest of the I-49 project in Arkansas.

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