No matter how hard the establishment keeps trying to tell people to move along, the Interstate 30 12-lane concrete gulch (more than that really at the dystopian Mills Freeway/I-30 junction) downtown is a done deal, credible voices keep popping up to say otherwise.
Paul Dodds, who’s devoted years and sweat and money to reviving sagging residential neighborhoods downtown and who’s appeared in our pages before, made his case in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette op-ed this morning.
This is more interesting still. It’s an analysis by Dale Pekar, who lives downtown. His resume:
served with the US Africa Command; the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service of the US Department of Agriculture; and the US Army Corps of Engineers conducting, reviewing, and teaching environmental analysis; and preparing strategic assessments.
It’s a lengthy, footnoted review, available at the link. It includes these summary points of shortcomings and/or needs:
Continuing the development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) rather than an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Failing to develop reasonable alternatives other than those which add lanes.
Failing to provide a basis for the assumed rate of corridor traffic volume growth.
Ignoring the need to conduct a sensitivity analysis on the assumed rate of growth for traffic volume.
Using inconsistent analysis techniques to compare the alternatives.
Ignoring the need to make and disclose estimates of traffic-related fatalities associated with each alternative.
Failing to indicate different traffic volumes for different corridor configurations.
Exaggerating the congestion relief associated with an alternative or alternatives.
Developing an eight-lane alternative that actually slows northbound traffic relative to the existing six-lane alternative.
Failing to clearly describe the causative elements of congestion and their relative importance.
Failing to conduct an incremental analysis.
The design year for the project is not clear.
Numerical and textual projections of future crashes are not consistent; making a valid comparison of the alternatives impossible.
Failure to disclose cost information.
The analysis uses a single-year of crash data to project the number of future crashes while using a multi-year average crash rate.
The analysis fails to adequately report, evaluate, and plan for local-to-local trips.
The analysis fails to reflect the fact that the anticipated future congestion in the I-30 corridor will stimulate the use of mass transit in the No-Action Alternative.
AHTD has failed to comply with Metroplan policy to “do a thorough analysis of alternative methods of meeting travel demand in the corridor with improved arterials and public transit…[p]rior to planning for widening beyond six through lanes.”
AHTD has failed to comply with Metroplan’s requirement to conduct “A thorough analysis of the impact of the induced traffic demand on local roadways as a result of the widening beyond six through lanes….”
The documents fail to disclose the effects of induced demand.
The fight isn’t over, no matter how condescending officials of the freeway department or certain members of the Little Rock City Board (looking at you, Directors Adcock and Hines) might appear. Research continues, too, on legal challenges to the project.
Other cities have waylaid similarly destructive ideas. Must Arkansas always be last? Not if people like Dale Pekar and Paul Dodds have allies. And they do.
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