The Arkansas freeway department has at least a million reasons why this wouldn’t work in Little Rock, the first being that they don’t want to seriously consider anything about Interstate 30 except widening the river of concrete that already divides a re-emerging downtown so that the highway director and his ilk can get home to Saline and other suburban counties faster. Live in Little Rock? Perish the thought.
But look to Texas, yes, Texas, for a progressive idea for downtown freeway treatment.
In Dallas, they’ve already covered over a stretch of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway with a park, a huge success story according to the Dallas Morning News. And now they are talking about expanding the park.
I remind you again of how stunning a project could be produced by REMOVING the Second Street exit from Interstate 30 and creating a grassy park — think Washington D.C. Capitol Mall, from the downtown library all the way to the Clinton Library. The library system even came up with a drawing. You could put the freeway BELOW the mall to make it even better. And tunnel under the Arkansas River, too, and thus solve those river navigation issues.
But, no, the Arkansas freeway department says there’a nothing to be done but to widen Interstate 30 to 10 lanes so that, for the 90 minutes or so of rush period traffic five days a week, the freeway is overbuilt for all possible traffic loads through mid-century.
The concept talk in Dallas is exciting stuff, particularly to someone trapped in 1950s thinking about running freeways through the hearts of cities.
“Klyde Warren Park has knitted the Dallas Arts District together with its unique footprint over Woodall Rogers,” said Colleen Walker, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer at the Perot Museum, in a statement sent to The Dallas Morning News. “In the past three years, both the Park and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science have enjoyed record attendance. We are certainly not surprised by the need to expand and look forward to hearing about their formal plans.”
Imagine. Knitting parts of downtown together rather than driving deeper wedges.