Quick weekend construction shows Big Rock Interchange project running on-time

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Weekend work on a major Arkansas interchange has the $125 million project inching closer to reality.{} The Big Rock Interchange is now more than 75% complete now that the overpass to connect Financial Center Parkway to I-630 has been erected.

Construction crews were able to put up the metal beams and supports on the Shackleford Road Overpass in half the time allotted to do it, sparing drivers lane closures and detours Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning.{}

The overpass is designed to get rid of cars having to stop at a traffic light at Shackleford Road when getting off of I-630 and continuing westbound or vice versa from Financial Center Parkway.

"In the morning commute and the afternoon commute that's going to make a really big difference for folks who live in West Little Rock and work in downtown," said Danny Straessle, spokesperson for Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Straessle said the other parts of the Big Rock Interchange project, the flyover ramps to connect I-430 to I-630 with two lanes of free flowing traffic in each direction, are dependent on the Shackleford Road Overpass being completed.

"The folks who are coming in from Saline County traveling north on I-430, the folks coming in from Faulkner County traveling south on I-430 - now the two will flow unimpeded and head straight to downtown or midtown, wherever their commute takes them," said Straessle.

With intersection of I-630 and I-430 being the busiest intersection in the state, with over 100,000 cars traveling the stretch of road on any given day, unimpeded traffic flow can't come soon enough.{} Despite minor setbacks, the project is on schedule and fingers crossed Straessle said, "we may get the rest of this completed by sometime middle of next year."

But don't get ready to say goodbye to I-630 construction just yet.{} Once the work on the Big Rock Interchange is open, Straessle said AHTD plans to start, "widening I-630 from the Baptist Medical Center exit all the way to Fair Park."

Straessle said with the overpass structure up, there should be no more lane reconfigurations with the construction until the actual interchange opens in summer of 2015.

The Shackleford Road Overpass could be functional by the end of 2014.