I-40 west travelers urged to pick alternate route

FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - State officials have a simple message for area travelers heading west during the holiday season - plan an alternate route.

Construction on Interstate 40 has slowed travel for more than a year, and state officials say the best option for traveling west this holiday season is to plan to use state highways instead of I-40, where work is taking place from the 199.5 mile marker to the 203.5 mile marker, near the Biscoe interchange.

"I couldn't tell you what the conditions over there are right now because it's not in our district, and I just don't even try going that way. With my luck, I'd get stuck for hours," said Ray Woodruff District 1 engineer.

"If I'm going to the central part of the state, I take either 64 over to 67 or I take 70 and avoid that mess altogether. You never know what's going to happen, and all it takes is one blowout or a minor accident for that section to get backed up for hours," said Woodruff.

Traffic is reduced in the area to one lane in each direction, and the project isn't slated for completion until late 2013.

Capt. Jackie Clark, commander of Arkansas State Police Troop D, headquartered in Forrest City, said travelers heading west should heed warnings regarding the area and plan alternate routes.

"The state is suggesting that people take Hwy. 64, Hwy. 70 or Hwy. 79, and that would be my suggestion too. Leave yourself plenty of time and take your time, but avoid that construction zone on I-40 unless you want to get where you're going hours late," said Clark.{}

"You can chance it, but I wouldn't because I've seen that area lock people up for hours after an accident. If I was traveling to the central part of the state, I would definitely take a little time and plan an alternate route that I could enjoy," he added.