The mayors of Little Rock and North Little Rock and the Pulaski County judge have told Metroplan they are in favor of amending the agency’s Transportation Improvement Plan to satisfy the state Department of Transportation’s demand on wording.

ARDoT Director Scott Bennett had warned Metroplan and its board that it would not proceed with any highway projects until the TIP language was modified to match the wording of the long-range plan, Imagine Arkansas. The long-range plan was amended to allow “capacity improvements” to Interstate 30 so the ARDoT’s plan to spend $600-million-plus to build a new bridge and widen the highway by adding four “collector/distributor” lanes. The TIP amendment wording now allows “operational improvements.”

ARDoT told the Metroplan board of directors this week that it now supports a 10-lane plan.

Metroplan Director Tab Townsell announced the move. He wrote:


Yesterday, the Cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County, authorized Metroplan staff to proceed with an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to update the work description for the 30 Crossing project. The authorization is per Metroplan policy, which asks the jurisdictions affirmatively sign off on projects before placing the project on the CARTS Agreed Upon List of Projects (AULP).

The amendment will modify the work description for 30 Crossing, remove footnotes, and advance the project to the AULP. This action represents the final action of the MPO on the 30 Crossing project.

A public comment period on the TIP amendment begins Sunday, Dec. 3, and closes at the end of the business day on Monday, Dec. 18. 

Mayor Stodola said after Bennett’s threat was made known that he was unconcerned about the delay in projects, since they would be short term. He supports the 30 Crossing widening.

Townsell said Metroplan has now asked Bennett to lift the hold he placed on all area projects and let them proceed.

Forward, ho.

UPDATE: A highway department spokesman said the Metroplan board must complete action with a vote Dec. 20, which happens to be the same day the department will be advertising for January bids. If Metroplan approves the TIF change as expected, the highway department will try to add two projects  for Central Arkansas — a traffic signal in Faulkner County scrapped from a November bid opening and traction improvement work on some area exit ramps that would otherwise not be included in the January bid letting.)