Favorite

A bridge too few 

Little Rock's Broadway Bridge, which opened in 1923, was supposed to be a cutting edge design and last for 1,000 years. The state Highway Transportation Department proposes to replace it 910 years early, in 2013, with $45 million in bridge construction money.

Crumbling concrete facades pose no structural risks, but are a continuing headache. Traffic engineers would like better traffic lanes and better pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Add to this wish list the desire of local elected officials — particularly Mayors Mark Stodola of Little Rock and Pat Hays of North Little Rock and County Judge Buddy Villines — to make the replacement bridge an icon. Architecturally arresting bridges have become a worldwide trend and they want Little Rock to keep up.

Metroplan's effort to stir up some interest in the fancy bridge cause hasn't produced a huge response yet. Only 364 responded to an on-line survey about bridge replacement. A bare plurality — 157 to 147 — favored an iconic design over making the bridge as attractive as possible within the budget.

A design competition, winner to be announced later this month, continues at newbroadwaybridge.org. But it is not binding on the Highway Department, which is at work on a replacement plan. Most expect that without local intervention the state's work will be every bit as lovely as the plugugly Main Street bridge, a replacement span itself.

What has not been discussed much to date is the disaster that awaits rush hour travelers when the Highway Department closes the Broadway Bridge for a year or two while building a replacement. The streets and freeway serving the Main Street and Interstate 30 bridges already experience gridlock at rush hour. The Broadway Bridge backup is even worse. Take that bridge out of commission and road rage on the alternate crossings will be volcanic.

What's the solution? Here's an idea that is getting a little bit of thought. The push for an iconic bridge as a replacement started late. Realistically, it's not going to happen in 2013 without an outpouring of public support not yet in evidence. The Highway Department won't bust its budget to create a striking design, which apparently costs more, though I can't tell you why. Unless a rich benefactor or local voters come up quickly with extra cash, a replacement built in 2013 seems most likely to be another utilitarian slab that will make us remember the old Broadway Bridge fondly.

But what if local voters could get behind a temporary tax to build a NEW river crossing first? The obvious spot would span the river at Chester Street and feed neatly into improving thoroughfares on the north shore, including the nearby Euro-style traffic circle. This isn't a state highway route so state money isn't available. It could be built for less than the Broadway Bridge replacement. A one-year county sales tax might do it.

The idea would be to build this span first and defer the Broadway replacement. When the Broadway Bridge did come down, there'd be an escape valve for traffic. A Chester Street crossing also would make the Broadway replacement cheaper because no connection ramp with LaHarpe would be needed. The local tax investment and savings might make the Highway Department more amenable to investing additional federal bridge money in appearances.

It's an idea at any rate. I like it better than the gunfights I fear will break out at Markham and Scott, just outside my office, if downtown bridge crossings are reduced to two in 2013.

Favorite

Speaking of Broadway Bridge, Metroplan

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Kids count, not confidentiality

    The trial for the murder of Isaiah Torres, 6, was a reminder again of a gaping hole in the law pertaining to child protective services.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Fixing blame: President Trump

    Did the press fail? Were liberal-leaning journalists on the coasts responsible for missing the Trump wave among middle-to-lower income white voters with lower educational attainment?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Can we get along?

    he Times production deadline fell before polls closed this week, so I'll look to the past and future.
    • Nov 10, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Fake economics

    • Trump economic proposals: Rates for Married-Joint filers: Less than $75,000: 12% More than $75,000 but…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    • Mark your calendar for January 21, when Arkansans will march, rally, and ally for Arkansas…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillary's "Stronger Together" lacked resonance because she failed to realize that the white middle class…

    • on December 4, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation