- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Construction of a portion of the planned Bella Vista Bypass is the first project to be funded under a sales tax increase approved by Arkansas voters in 2012.

State highway officials said Wednesday that they’ve opened bids on the next phase of the bypass, which creates a new highway between U.S. 71 in Bentonville and Interstate 49 in Pineville, Mo. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department says the lowest bid came in at $52 million for the project.

Two more contracts will be needed to complete the initial two lanes of the bypass.

The project is the first to be funded under a half-cent sales tax that’s expected to pay for $1.8 billion in improvements to Arkansas highways. The tax took effect last July and will expire by 2023.

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