Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
1) There was no indication of who would fund the concepts presented by Studio Main. AHTD has already indicated they would not pay for the 6th-9th Streets deck park and there is little hope they would pay for any of the other amenities shown by Chris East. The presentation was carefully staged so that the amenities shown by East can be stripped out later for cost reasons and AHTD can deny they ever promised any of these ideas.
2) The new plans add park space but no land (actually less land) for future business development which is the key for future tax base growth downtown. They carefully avoided showing any views of the underside of their actual freeway design, just East’s hypothetical what-ifs of narrower underpasses. People attending this meeting would have no clue how wide the underside of the freeway is going to be.
3) AHTD is still expanding the freeway to 10 lanes through downtown whatever you call it.
4) The new plan is even more expensive and less sustainable than before, particularly in light of the cost the City will have to be responsible for. One big part of the funding is still a loan from the design-build contractor – $107 million — where will the money come from to pay this back? And is this loan constitutional?
5) AHTD is ignoring “induced demand” in their modeling though their own visualizations show congestion in the expanded freeway (we still have to do some tweaks they say). This induced demand will lead to the need to expand the rest of the freeways in the area – plans have already been developed for expanding I-630. AHTD did not address (again) the total cost implications for the future.
6) There was no mention of Smart Mobility’s study, a Chester Street bridge, or beefing up local arterials and connections for diffusing traffic. And there was no “boulevard” option on their options checklist.
7) Nelson Nygaard, is clearly not independent, but in the go-along with the mayor and AHTD mode which is very disappointing.
If God exists, I hope God can forgive us. All of us.
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