Sections of Interstate 540 and Highway 71 in northwest Arkansas will be receiving a new Interstate highway designation soon, according to the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.

The department recently received approval from the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to rename the route Interstate 49 from Interstate 40 near Alma to the Highway 71B interchange just south of Bella Vista.

“This is something we have been working on for several months,” said AHTD Director Scott Bennett. “In addition, we are awaiting Federal Highway Administration approval to designate future sections of Interstate 49 between Interstate 40 and the Louisiana state line.”

The Bella Vista Bypass, which is currently under construction, will have a dual designation as Highway 549 and Future Interstate 49 until it is completed to Interstate standards.

“This is part of our ultimate goal to upgrade the Highway 71 corridor in western Arkansas to Interstate standards,” said Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel. “When completed, Interstate 49 in Arkansas will stretch from the Louisiana border north to the Missouri border.”

Crews are scheduled to replace road signs beginning the week of April 21. I-49 signage should be in place along the approximate 65-mile route within 30 days.