The Heights Neighborhood Association met Monday night and, after hearing a plea from state Rep. Clarke Tucker, voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing the proposal to widen Interstate 30 “in its current form.”
The heat is rising on the 10-lane, half-billion ($4 billion counting maintenance) project. To date, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has only offered a need to speed traffic for the vast work between the two terminal interchanges through the heart of the city.
Good discussions are underway both here and also on this ad hoc Facebook. Concerns include the damage that freeways do by separating neighborhoods with nearly impenetrable walls; the absence of consideration of all forms of transportation; a curbing of mass transit; damage to efforts to revive the east side of downtown; the proven failure of such projects to end congestion; time lost during construction; state encouragement of suburban flight by cost-negative, massive public spending (let people live wherever they want, just don’t make others subsidize it or suffer the damage). Check Trails of Arkansas, too. Thoughtful consideration of many issues.
The people are rising. So far, elected officials in the city and county have been scarcely in evidence, with notable exceptions including Reps. Warwick Sabin and Clarke Tucker. That’s the same thing that happened until it was too late to get a better plan for the Broadway Bridge. Are we headed to a repeat, this time with devastating impact on the city?
Some cities are tearing down freeways and using bypasses for interstate and commuters. Realistically, that’s thinking too advanced for Arkansas. The terminal interchanges need improvement. “Experts” insist the Arkansas River bridge must be replaced. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean every part of this poor plan must be adopted. But it will happen unless some powerful forces rise up. Legal research is underway about means to stop or at least delay the project for a meaningful environmental impact assessment.
ALSO: Metroplan will continue discussion of the plan at a meeting beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at 501 W. Markham Street. A Metroplan staff analysis is planned.
PS: A national transportation blog is onto the story for all the right reasons (AHTD wrong-headedness)
UPDATE: I’d heard that City Director Kathy Webb would have a resolution prepared to introduce at today’s Little Rock City Board agenda meeting for a vote next week. It would have opposed the project in its current form. It won’t be ready today, however. She said the Highway Department also wanted to make a presentation to the Board next week. She said it seemed a good step to hear them first. City Attorney Tom Carpenter had begun work on a draft resolution, which he cautions after I asked for it under FOI could be subject to drastic change if completed. But the rough start makes sense to me.
UPDATE II: In announcing the department’s request to appear before the City Board, the Department also said the turnout of 400 people at a public hearing last week had contributed to a decision by the department to extend by 30 days, until Dec. 6, a 15-day window for comment on the plan.
Have a comment about this? Write:
Connecting Arkansas Program
RE: 30 Crossing Public Meeting
4701 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118