LET'S TALK: About 30 Crossing.


Improve 30 Crossing,
a group devoted to improving the Interstate 30 corridor in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock, wants to talk about the planned $600 million project to widen the road and build a new river bridge.

So make plans for a session on the project from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 16, at the Darragh Center of the downtown library. Says the notice of the meeting:

All are welcome at this session—especially Little Rock and North Little Rock elected officials, ArDOT, FHWA, other governmental and nongovernmental organizations, individuals. All will have the opportunity to participate.

A Four-Chair Format

Welcome and explanation of the process.

Four chairs face one another in the center of the room. Three chairs are for anyone who wants to speak. The fourth chair is reserved for anyone who wants to ask a question of a speaker. Only one of the persons seated in these four chairs is allowed to speak at any one point in time. Everyone else is seated around these four chairs and may not speak unless they move to one of the four chairs.

After the welcome, the first speaker does a self-introduction and says what they want to say. Anyone can ask a question after the speaker finishes by sitting down in the fourth chair.

If there are no questions, the speaker simply leaves their chair after speaking. The next speaker then speaks in-turn.

Anyone can come forward and occupy an empty speaker’s chair at any time.

Anyone can come forward and occupy the empty questioner’s chair at any time.

The meeting ends when everyone who wants to speak has spoken—or in time to clean up the room before the library closes.

I hope highway officials and city officials (looking at Mayor Frank Scott Jr.) who’ve endorsed the concrete gulch will take a seat and take questions. The project we now know is woefully underfunded. This seems likely to mean a project with even fewer add-ons to limit environmental damage, neighborhood disruption and unaddressed induced traffic problems on feeder freeways and the city grid.

The environmental assessment of the project is nearing completion. It will be a shock if the highway agencies don’t give it clearance. But that’s no end to legal challenges. A dramatically altered project, as the money shortage has to produce, would seem to demand a new environmental assessment. Additionally, there’s the question of whether a full environmental impact statement is needed for a project of magnitude.  (An environmental assessment is not the same thing.)

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