As of tomorrow, U.S. Highway 71 will officially have a new name.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced that the 180-mile stretch of roadway, from I-435 in Kansas City, Mo. to Route H in Pineville, will now receive interstate designation.
The new I-49 will be unveiled at noon tomorrow, at the Joplin East Middle School.
Work to receive interstate designation began years ago, when the Interstate 49 corridor, designed to one day stretch from Shreveport, La. to Kansas City, was included in the International Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, passed by Congress in 1991.
Signage has been posted for months, though those signs have been covered or turned away from the roadway until the designation becomes official.
According to information provided by MoDOT, contractor crews will be working Wednesday afternoon to uncover and turn the new I-49 signs.
In an earlier interview with the Daily News, Sean Matlock, MoDOT project manager, said the portion of U.S. Highway 71 south of Interstate 44 and stretching to Route H in Pineville, has needed virtually no repairs to prepare for its new interstate designation.
"It was built to interstate standards," Matlock said of the roadway, which was completed in the late 1990s.
Though the local section of the roadway was ready for its new name, other portions of the corridor located north of Interstate 44 have undergone several improvements to meet interstate standards.
Matlock said among the interstate requirements are the absence of intersections, and the lengthening of ramps.
Recent projects included construction of outer roads in Bates County, construction of an interchange in Vernon County at Route TT, near Nevada, and the lengthening of some on-ramps in Cass County, near Harrisonville.