Metroplan has submitted its views on the environmental assessment of the 30 Crossing concrete ditch widening project through downtown Little Rock. Unsurprisingly, the staff concludes that the board of the agency — overweighted to suburban members, but also getting no help from urban members — chose the best plan in widening the already neighborhood-destructive freeway to 10-plus lanes.

Here’s the Metroplan comment.

The staff did work in a few points of concern, including:

* A failure to consider the impact of not widening Interstate 630 from I-30 to University Avenue. Without 630 improvements, traffic congestion on the midtown freeway will back into I-30 in the opening year and eventually onto I-40 and U.S. 67.

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Metroplan staff remains concerned about how 30 Crossing will affect I-630 and the feasibility and timing of any proposed projects for that corridor. We do acknowledge that 30 Crossing is not solely responsible for the congestion on I-630 and that regardless of the selected option for 30 Crossing some modifications to I-630 between I-30 and University are likely warranted.

As it stands work on I-630 from University Avenue to I-30 is not part of vision for regional transit (though it seems a foregone conclusion among the state highway builders once the current expansion between University and I-430 is completed.)

* The impact of 30 Crossing on regional land use, population distribution and employment.

Indeed, freeway building has consequences, often unexpected ones. See California, which has finally decided you can’t build your way out of traffic issues or the sprawl it fosters.

The staff also said that if the current change in downtown interchanges is the one finally approved it hopes that dialogue between

city of Little Rock and public will continue regarding the design of 2nd Street [where an interchange is to be removed] and the newly created open during the design build process. The interacgtion of these two will be critical to the success of the proposed park and downtown traffic patterns. One option to consider would be to retaining 2nd Street for local traffic only between Sherman and Cumberland, moving through traffic (to and from interstate) to a new road at the park’s southern property line and eliminating 2nd street from Mahlon Martin to Sherman.

Wishful thinking, I fear. The city is perpetually broke and city street work will be its responsibility. This also doesn’t address the new traffic flow on Fourth and Capitol and Sixth, a big disruption to the downtown grid that will NOT make some commuter users of I-30 happy when they find a new route to, say, Riverdale.