The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s $1 billion project to widen 7.3 miles of Interstate 30 have dropped their request for a preliminary injunction at this stage of the lawsuit. The motion was withdrawn after their lawyer, Richard Mays, was advised by the Department of Justice, which represents the Federal Highway Administration, that ARDOT does not plan to begin work on the project until mid-2020. The new motion, filed jointly by the plaintiffs and defendants, says “The parties have conferred, and Defendants have represented to Plaintiffs that the beginning of construction activities on the project is not imminent. Based on that representation, and in the interest of efficiency, Plaintiffs withdraw their motion for Preliminary Injunction without prejudice.”
The defendants have agreed to provide plaintiffs, which include the Little Rock Downtown Neighborhood Association, with 45-days notice of their intent to begin construction if the federal court has not ruled on the lawsuit. It’s harder to stop a project once it’s begun; the agreement for the delay is crucial to the plaintiffs’ case.
The highway department has been working with Kiewit-Massman Constructors on a plan to phase in construction in light of the cost of the project, which exceeds the $535 million the department has available. Construction was originally planned to begin this year.
The LRDNA and other neighborhood associations, including the Pettaway Neighborhood Association, the Hanger Hill Neighborhood Association and the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods filed suit in May against the FHA after that agency ruled an environmental impact statement was not necessary for the widening project, dubbed 30 Crossing. The project calls for widening I-30 from six lanes (and more in places) to 10 from I-40 on the north and I-530 on the south. It would directly impact the Hanger Hill and Pettaway neighborhoods, which abut the interstate.