The interstate highways ending in zero are generally the longest east-west highways in the Interstate Highway System (IHS). But Interstate 30 (I-30) is the shortest two-digit interstate with a number ending in zero in the IHS, extending only 366.76 miles. It runs through parts of Texas (223.74 miles) and Arkansas (143.02 miles).
In addition, Interstate 30 is part of what is designated High Priority Corridor 55 (Dallas to Memphis via Little Rock).
In Texas, I-30 begins at an interchange with I-20 west of Fort Worth. It then runs northeast via Dallas and Texarkana to an interchange with I-40 in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The highway parallels U.S. Route 67 (US 67) except for the segment west of downtown Dallas (which was once part of I-20). Along its route I-30 has interchanges with I-35W, I-35E and I-45.
The first controlled-access section of what is now I-30 was the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike, a 30-mile long controlled-access tollway. It was a toll road between 1957 and 1977, and then became part of I-20 and then I-30. The road, which originally had three lanes in each direction (but has since been widened), is the only direct connection between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas. That section of I-30 was named the Tom Landry Highway, after the late coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
The turnpike was proposed and studied in 1944 but did not move forward because the state highway engineer deemed it was too expensive. However, the Texas state legislature created the Texas Turnpike Authority in 1953, and in 1955 the Authority raised $58.5 million (equivalent to more than $565 million today) to build the toll road and began construction later that year. The toll road opened to traffic on August 27, 1957. Over the years, the turnpike helped to stimulate growth in the towns (now cities) of Arlington and Grand Prairie. The bonds that financed the toll road were paid off in December 1977 (17 years earlier than first projected!). Responsibilities for the road were transferred to the Texas Department of Transportation, tolls ended, and the toll booths were dismantled in early January 1978.
Prior to the IHS, US 67 was a heavily used local and through route in the early 1950s. It was expanded during that decade, and then upgraded to IHS standards beginning in 1961. Much of I-30 was under construction outside the metroplex by the mid-1960s. I-30 through Fort Worth was completed in 1964, and much of the rest of I-30 was finished by 1965. However, a 40-mile segment in a rural area between Mount Pleasant and New Boston remained unfinished until 1971.
When I-30 opened, its west end was at the current intersection of I-30 and US 80 near the border of Mesquite and Dallas. At that time, I-20 went into downtown Dallas, across the former turnpike through downtown Fort Worth and to points west. Later, I-20 was rerouted to its current southerly route around Dallas and Fort Worth, and its former route was re-signed as I-30 from US 80 to western Fort Worth, and later to the current intersection with I-20 near Aledo.
I-30 in Texas
Within Texas, I-30 was an original interstate; it was approved by the Texas State Highway Commission in 1962 to run 240 miles in the state. The 32-mile-long Dallas-Fort Turnpike was added to I-30 in 1978.
The western end of I-30 in Texas is at its intersection with I-20 in Parker County near Aledo. I-30 is known as East R.L. Thornton Freeway between downtown Dallas and the eastern suburb of Mesquite. From Rockwall to past Sulphur Springs, I-30 runs concurrently with US 67. Through Greenville, I-30 is known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway. I-30 continues northeasterly through eastern Texas until it reaches a point a few miles from the Texas-Oklahoma border; there the route turns east toward Arkansas.
I-30 in Arkansas
I-30 enters southwestern Arkansas at Texarkana, the twin city of Texarkana, Texas. I-30 intersects I-49, after which it travels northeast. I-30 remains a busy trucking corridor as it turns northeast, passing through Hope, Prescott, Gurdon, Arkadelphia and Malvern. The final segment of I-30 completed in Arkansas was between Hope and Prescott.
At Malvern, US 70 and US 67 join I-30 and run concurrently with the interstate to the Little Rock city limits. As I-30 runs northeast of Malvern, it passes through Benton before reaching the Little Rock city limits.
I-430 is a western bypass of Little Rock that splits from I-30 as it enters the city. South of downtown Little Rock, I-30 meets the western terminus of I-440 and the northern terminus of I-530 (which runs 46 miles south to Pine Bluff). At this three-way junction of interstate highways, I-30 turns due north for the last few miles of its route. Another auxiliary route – I-630 – splits downtown Little Rock in an east-west direction before reaching its other end at I-430 west of downtown. After its intersection with I-630, I-30 crosses the Arkansas River into North Little Rock and ends at I-40. At this end point, I-30 is joined by US 65, US 67 and US 167. US 65 joins I-40 westbound, while US 67 and US 167 join I-40 eastbound from I-30’s eastern terminus.
Interstate 30 extension
There have been proposals to extend I-30 northeast from its current end in North Little Rock along the US 67 corridor through north-central Arkansas and into Missouri. As drafted, I-30 would turn east along US 60 and connect with I-57 at Sikeston.
However, this conflicted with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to extend I-57, by using US 67. Therefore, it is likely that if US 67 is upgraded to interstate standards it will be as part of I-57. The Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development legislation designated US 67 in Arkansas as “Future I-57.”
Therefore, it appears that at its eastern terminus I-30 will not be extended.