Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) has begun a WiFi pilot project to determine the feasibility of outfitting the entire fleet with the hardware necessary to provide passengers with wireless internet access. The two buses with wireless equipment will be utilized on route 5 West Markham and route 10 McCain Mall to allow passengers to connect to the internet free of charge. Additional pilot buses may be added in the next few weeks.
“Providing wireless internet access to passengers is something we have wanted to do for a long time, but the funding hasn’t been available.” stated Bill Adcock, CATA director of operations. “The pilot project will provide us with valuable information regarding passenger usage, hardware performance, and potential project cost.”
CATA intends to include the provision of WiFi services in a grant application being submitted to Metroplan later this year. The pilot will last through the month of November.
Travel and Leisure magazine hasn't released many details to us about the survey. We do know that the survey was conducted between December of last year and April of this year - in the midst of our massive construction project. Since the terminal remained in operation during construction, it was pretty messy out here. And unfortunately, there were times when passengers were inconvenienced and not as comfortable as we would have liked. But overall, it's a different place now as we've finished our $67 million construction project. We'd love to have Travel and Leisure readers to be able to survey us again and offer their feedback.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been reducing security wait times. It has implemented Pre-Check, a new expedited screening process, and is seeing results. The Airport Commission has also invested in technology to measure and track wait times, which has helped TSA in its efforts. In fact, Clinton National Airport is one of only two airports in the country to invest in this technology. We know wait times have been a concern with our travelers, so this is a way for us to ensure we know at all times how long security wait lines are and work with TSA, which oversees security checkpoints, to help them improve measures to the extent that we're allowed by federal regulation.
We'd love to see more shops and restaurants here, too. We contract with HMS Host, which works with airports across the country to provide a mix of local and national options. Clinton National Airport has had the highest grossing restaurant revenue in Little Rock for the past five years. Whole Hog Barbecue is a local favorite doing business here at the airport, and Starbucks is a national favorite among the other choices we have. Overall, the amount of offerings is based on demand. Because we're a smaller airport and not a hub airport, our passengers don't have long layovers here. That makes our services very different than the ones you would find at a larger airport.
Customer service is a huge priority, and the Airport Commission wants passengers to have an excellent experience. That's why we're currently renovating all restrooms and baggage claim. We've also added a new baggage screening system, and - for the first time in our history - added curbside check-in. That's just the beginning, as the Commission plans to build a replacement concourse within the next few years and transform us into an international airport.
Feedback is also very important to us. We want to stay connected to our customers and will be launching a new website within the next few months to help with that. This survey compares us to the largest airports in the country, which naturally can offer more choices. We strive to be the best that we can be. Once again, we would love to have those who participated in this survey travel through our airport now, as Phase One of our major construction plan has been completed.
Director-Public Affairs and Governmental Relations
Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport
The state Highway Commission yesterday signed off on County Judge Buddy Villines' plan to dress up a replacement Broadway Bridge with flags, painted walks, installations honoring veterans and a light display.
The URS Corporation, headed locally by former Central Arkansas Transit director, Keith Jones, did the design work for the additions to the bridge. The add-ons will cost $2 million and phased in as contributions are made to fund Villines plans for "America's Bridge." This money is in addition to the $20 million he's committed from county road tax money to make the main bridge a little more design-forward than the $58 million model proposed by the Highway and Transportation Department.
On the jump is Villines' description of the project. It accompanied a slide show for commissioners.
Bids to tear down the existing bridge and replace it are expected to be taken around the end of the year. That process could last two years.
Varner has a bachelor's degree from Harding University and a master's from the University of North Texas in public administration.
Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas (BACA) and the Arkansas Bicycle Club are sponsoring the annual National Ride of Silence to remember those who have been killed or injured while bicycling and to recognize that bicyclists have a right to be on the roads.
It's at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. The ride starts at the new Children's Library at 4800 W. 10th and will go east on 12th Street, two abreast at 12 mph, using new bicycle lanes. The group will go through the Arkansas Children's Hospital grounds and end at the Capitol steps for a brief program. Helmets required and bicycle lights needed.
Though a lapsed bike rider myself, I remain an advocate of providing safe lanes for bicyclists on city streets, bike trails and bridges and welcome and encourage the rise in cycling in these parts. For a period, I commuted from Hillcrest to downtown on a bike. Markham Street near the Deaf School was always an iffy proposition.
But .... I have some sympathy for those who say there are bike riders who, though thoroughly entitled to space on the road, don't think they must obey the rules of the road in return. I'm thinking particularly of those bikers who zip by lines of stopped cars on the right to whip through red stop lights that the cars have obeyed. I'm also thinking of a handful of bicyclists who've claimed sidewalks and expect pedestrians to yield.
The House today voted 361-41 for a measure approved unanimously in the Senate to end air traffic controller furloughs that have caused flight delays. All Arkies were on board.
The Downtown Little Rock Partnership and the city of Little Rock continued its pedestrian safety campaign today with a media event at La Harpe Boulevard and President Clinton Avenue, site of the most pedestrian accidents in the city.
"As the River Market District visitor numbers increase," said Sharon Priest, DLRP executive director, "and as the number of people living downtown increases, we become more walkable—a sign of a healthy and vibrant downtown."
The growing number of pedestrians is joined by a growing number of bicyclists who also share this key downtown crossroad with cars, trucks, buses, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and River Rail trolleys. Motorists use La Harpe as a connector to I-30. This heavily trafficked street was designed to get vehicles through downtown quickly.
Mayor Mark Stodola added, "We want a downtown that is safe for its citizens and its tourists. We are appealing to all Arkansans to use caution and increased awareness as they pass through this intersection. We also want to remind motorists that pedestrians have the right of way in the crosswalks when turning." Stepped up police patrols are also in place in the River Market.
Counting on the traffic that barrels through Clinton on La Harpe to slow down is a foolish leap of faith, I can testify. Clinton traffic is bad to ignore crosswalk signals and run down pedestrians with the right of way as well. Short of some real traffic calming devices there (in other words items that slow traffic, to non-Zen motorists' certain road rage response), the only real advice is "Be careful out there non-motorists."
The plastic warning figures are going to stay in place for a time. At least until someone mows them down. Never mind. They are gone.
A light input overnight. A few things stand out.
* IT'S ALL ABOUT MEDICAID: Will today be a climactic day on Arkansas's decision on expanding Medicaid under President Obama's health care initiative? Will the House vote to appropriate the money, with the required 75 votes? Don't know yet. But note that the 27 Senate votes also remain an open question, particularly if tall-talking tea baggers such as Jason Rapert and Missy Irvin scuttle back into the corner of their patrons and soulmates on the Koch-financed reservation. One unconfirmed report has national Republican leaders making calls to fence-sitting Republicans to oppose the Arkansas plan, devised by Republicans to make Obamacare more palatable.
UPDATE: Now have a second report that House Speaker John Boehner is meddling in Arkansas politics, encouraging Republican legislators to vote against Medicaid expansion.
UPDATE II: Need a good uurp this morning? Read Roby Brock on Rep. Rick Crawford's appeal to Arkansas legislators to defeat Medicaid expansion and then, for a real urrp, catch some U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin posturing in Congress this morning with HHS Secretary Sebelius. She's not getting into the Arkansas debate.
* MORE GUNS IN SCHOOL: The move to put more guns in schools in the person of armed security officers seems likely to only contribute to this trend reported by the New York Times. When you put more guards in schools, you wind up with more kids arrested and put into the criminal justice system for offenses, routine fistfights, that once were better handled in the principal's office.
* FIE ON THE NEW BROADWAY BRIDGE: The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning on a letter by Jim McKenzie, director of Metroplan, excoriating the planned design of the replacement Broadway Bridge. Better late than never. He's right. It will be a plug ugly monstrosity, with an awful paint job and fake bricks, supposedly to mimic Dickey Stephens Park, that will soon look like homemade s***.
The eternally ugly edifice will be but nothing to the poor traffic design, which will sacrifice safe and useful pedestrian/bike access to the mission of moving motorized traffic as fast as possible between Dogtown and South Dogtown. Walkers and bikers will take their lives in their hands, particularly, trying to cross the high-speed funnel down to LaHarpe Boulevard, a nightmarish ramp now.
The Highway and "Transportation" Department honors non-motorized traffic only to the barest extent required by federal law. It is going to build this new bridge just because it can and because some free federal money's available, though not enough to do it right. The state never had an interest in waiting to get enough money to do this bridge right — or better yet, build a new crossing on a new site and make the existing Broadway Bridge a hanging garden of public enjoyment between a remodeled Robinson convention center and the north shore's lovely riverfront. It was always this approach for the highway builders: We're going to build a monstrosity NOW, so you better get out of our damn way.
The two-year nightmare of downtown disruption of construction will seem blissful by comparison to the 100-year legacy of poor planning that the Highway Department is soon to dump on the river.
The Highway Department spokesman seemed pissed that the director of a planning agency had used his letterhead to urge a well-planned bridge. Where does he get off doing such a thing?
* ANOTHER LAWSUIT ON EXXON PIPELINE OIL SPILL: Here's a copy of the second federal lawsuit filed by a property owner who claims damages from the busted pipeline and tar sand crude deluge at Mayflower.
The Times Brian Chilson sends along a shot of the hole that recently developed in a westbound lane of Cantrell near Riverdale. A police car is blocking the lane. You will not unwittingly roll over it.
The Democrat-Gazette reports that crews are expected to plug the hole this afternoon.
"This particular bridge is a very old one," a Highway Department spokesman told the D-G. "It's just an old bridge that has seen better days."
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has announced a route for a new north-south highway corridor linking Fayetteville and Rogers along the eastern edges of the cities.
The preferred alignment will extend Highway 265 north from Highway 264 to Highway 94 using a combination of improvements to existing routes and construction on new location. It will begin at Highway 264 and continue in a northern direction along Old Wire Road. At Frisco Cemetery Road, the alignment will continue north on new location until it connects with South First Street. The alignment will then continue north along South First Street and end at Highway 94 (New Hope Road) in Rogers.
It’s the culmination of extensive planning and environmental studies that began in 2009. The criteria used for designating the preferred alignment included cost effectiveness, the overall impacts, and public input.
“The purpose of the proposed project is to improve north-south connectivity and enhance mobility for travelers in the Northwest Arkansas metro area,” says Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel.
After further survey and design work is complete, a Design Public Hearing will be held to share details on the design and proposed right of way limits, and to receive additional public comment on the proposal.
A copy of the Environmental Assessment and the project location map are available for viewing in the Recent Public Meeting Section of the Department’s website at ArkansasHighways.com.
At today's meeting of Metroplan, Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines laid out his plan for turning the fairly attractive basket-handle double-arch bridge scheduled to replace the Broadway Bridge into an "iconic" bridge. His idea: "America's Bridge: Dedicated to Those Who Fought for Freedom and Worked for Peace."
Villines' vision calls for painting the south arch of the bridge white, the north arch bright blue, and the wall along the road deck bright red. The arches would be lit up similarly at night, and Villines said LED technology could be utilized to make the lights appear to wave like an American flag, or to create "a simulated fireworks display."
At the road deck level, Villines wants the walls decorated with stars, quotes by famous Americans about peace and freedom, and the names of those from Arkansas who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Swappable banners would acknowledge the different branches of the Armed Forces, conflicts America has fought in, and more.
As much as this very (very, very) vulgar and not-safe-for-work song from the South Park creators was playing in your correspondent's head during Villines' presentation, I'll leave the artistic critiques to you.
See a slideshow of more images on the jump.
The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing its X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer.
The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. It means, though, that far fewer passengers will be exposed to radiation because the X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.
This is the potentially bad news:
"They're not all being replaced," TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. "It's being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time."
He said the TSA decided to move the X-ray machines to less-busy airports after conducting an analysis of processing time and staffing requirements at the airports where the scanners are installed.
The radiation risk and privacy concerns had no bearing on the decision, Castelveter said
What are smaller airports? Chopped liver? Does this mean Little Rock could actually get worse? Might we go entirely to full-body scanners?
Perplexed, yes there have been MANY greater people living in our lifetime. One was Martin…
"I love penises,'' I shouted to my smiling neighbor as he walked away, while thinking…
Little of the same character? You surely just, oh Snake? There are those that cling…
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings