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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Highway officials say the first section of the long-awaited Bella Vista Bypass will open to traffic in northern Arkansas this week.

The three-mile section of the bypass is opening Tuesday west of Hiwasse on Arkansas 72. The segment is a part of the 18.9-mile Bella Vista Bypass project, aimed at relieving congestion on U.S. 71 through Bella Vista and north into Missouri.

A Fayetteville company, APAC-Central, Inc., was awarded a $19.8 million contract for the roadway opening this week. It was paid for by both federal and state gas tax money, with some of it financed by a U.S. Department of Transportation grant.

Highway department spokesman Danny Straessle says the total construction cost for the Bella Vista Bypass is estimated at $150.6 million.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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