Monday, August 29, 2016

The Concrete Gulch Chronicles

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 12:04 PM


Some Twitter traffic today reminds me of how predictable and retrograde were the decisions by Mayors Mark Stodola and Joe Smith and County Judge Barry Hyde to throw in with the highway construction lobby to back the Arkansas highway department's Concrete Gulch plan to put 10 lanes of traffic on Interstate 30 through the heart of Little Rock. This might  shave a minute or two off suburban commuters' transit time (if they travel during 45-minute rush hour windows) but it will create new gridlock points with no money or plan to fix them.

I liked the photo above from Vancouver's former chief planner, Brent Toderian, that shows freeway routes proposed there. That vibrant city — exploding with development — said no to freeways . You arrive at the Vancouver Airport, you go to downtown on a broad, traffic-lighted boulevard lined with some very nice neighborhoods and  numerous attractive commercial nodes. Everybody I talked to in Vancouver said freeways would have ruined the city. Those who live in the Vancouver equivalent of Bryant and Cabot might see it differently at rush hour.

Browsing through Twitter also led me to a cartoon by engineer Ian Lockwood, who also tweets impressively about urban planning. He shared the infographic below, too. But hey. No way these guys know more than visionary Arkansas politicians like Lance Hines and Gulch builders like Scott Bennett, who snorts derisively at the idea of boulevards. You might as well tell him we might someday have driverless cars and two-way wrist TVs.

But if you like to dream, take a look at Twitter feeds from Lockwood and from urban planner Brent Toderian. Metroplan will approve the Concrete Gulch Wednesday.

click to enlarge crcxz1wusaegc-1.jpg


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Speaking of...

  • Freeway fires: A lesson in Charlotte for Little Rock

    September 23, 2016
    Here's a deep essay from Think Progress on how freeways and suburbanization segregated Charlotte neighborhoods and helped create the social and racial divide that exploded in that city this week. Yes, of course, I'm thinking about a parallel with the push by the white business establishment in Little Rock for ever wider freeways. /more/
  • UPDATE: Metroplan signs off on waiver for Concrete Gulch

    August 31, 2016
    UPDATE: The Metroplan board has voted with scant opposition to waive the existing six-lane limit on area freeways so that the highway department may build a 10-lane concrete gulch through the heart of Little Rock. Leslie Newell Peacock will be back with more after a while. A grassroots group presented spirited opposition, all ignored. /more/
  • Concrete gulch hearing this week

    August 28, 2016
    Metroplan will vote Wednesday on a waiver of the six-lane freeway limit in its regional transportation plan to remove one obstacle to building a huge concrete gulch through the center of Little Rock — 10 lanes of freeway and even more concrete in some spots — to hasten the movement of traffic to and from suburbs to the detriment of quality of life in the city. Big surprise: the business establishment's drum major Mayor Mark Stodola, wants to pour the concrete. /more/
  • Metroplan advisory panel says no to waiver of six-lane limit

    August 24, 2016
    By a vote of 20-3, Metroplan's Regional Planning Advisory Committee today voted against lifting the Central Arkansas transit plan's limit of six through-lanes on interstates to accommodate the state highway department's plan to widen Interstate 30. /more/
  • Metroplan advisers put off vote on AHTD's request for 6-lane waiver: Update

    July 20, 2016
    The council that advises Metroplan's board of directors voted today to wait until a 30-day public comment period has passed before deciding whether to grant the state highway department a waiver of the planning agency's six-lane limit on freeway through lanes. The panel, the Regional Planning Advisory Council, will meet Aug. 24 to consider the comments. That is the day after the public comment period, which runs July 24 to Aug. 23. /more/
  • Resistance grows nationally to freeway expansions

    June 27, 2016
    The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar? /more/
  • Alarm sounded on Highway Commission attendance at Metroplan meeting on wider freeways

    June 24, 2016
    Members of the Highway Commission will be on hand at a Metroplan meeting where discussion is to begin on the state highway department's desire to lift the cap on freeway width in Central Arkansas. Will they be pushing for a hurryup rule change? A spokesman says no. A critic says you can't be too careful. /more/
  • AHTD asks Metroplan to lift six-lane freeway cap

    June 23, 2016
    The board of directors of Metroplan has informed the state highway department that it cannot act on the highway department's June 17 request to lift its six-lane freeway cap at the board's June 29 meeting. Consideration of the request should take four months, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wrote June 22 to highway department Director Scott Bennett. /more/
  • Even Texas sees light on freeway expansion

    June 14, 2016
    Even Texas highway builders are considering tearing down a freeway rather than widening it. In downtown Dallas! /more/
  • City to AHTD: Consider downtown. Otherwise, go ahead.

    June 10, 2016
    On this final day of public comment on the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's plan to widen Interstate 30, Mayor Mark Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore have provided the AHTD with recommendations based on an assumption the proposed alternatives — 8 lanes or 10 — will be acceptable to the city. /more/
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