Favorite

A green light for e-STEM traffic 

City says intersection can handle hundreds of cars.

0320reporterestem_image1.jpg

Traffic at Third and Louisiana streets has been pretty sleepy for the past several years, thanks to vacant buildings.

But if things go as planned for the new charter e-STEM school, which will occupy the Gazette Building on the northeast corner, the corner should be busier than it's ever been.

E-STEM — which actually will be three schools covering grades 1-12 — will have a maximum of 856 students and some 60 to 65 teaching and other personnel, spokesman Joe Mittiga said. Arrival times will be staggered between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and departures between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

To accommodate traffic, the city is considering making Louisiana, which is now one-way south of Second Street, two-way from Second to Interstate 630. There would be costs involved, to change signals and intersection improvements.

The school had asked that Louisiana be opened to two-way traffic from Second to Fourth. Parents will drop off children at entrances on Louisiana, Third and in the alley off Third Street on the east side of the building.

“Based on what we see [in the school's traffic plan], we don't see any operational problems,” city traffic division manager Bill Henry said. Henry said he's still getting data, but that his office had looked at the school's request from a “worst case” scenario, which would put 450 cars on Louisiana and on Third every morning and afternoon. (About 100 cars an hour use the intersection today, he said.) Henry said street lights are timed in such a way that 10 to 15 cars will be able to pull in front of either entrance every 70 seconds, for a total he estimated of 500 cars an hour.

The new traffic plan would make all left turns from Third onto Louisiana illegal to prevent gridlock, Henry said.

Traffic could be worse in the afternoon, Henry said, because instead of dropping off children, parents usually go early, park and wait. But he anticipates that the number of cars will be fewer than the “worst case,” because some cars will transport multiple children and students will be encouraged to ride Central Arkansas Transit to get to school.

Nor will everyone headed to e-STEM be dropped off, Henry noted. Teachers, administrators and some high school students will have their own cars. So what about parking needs? “We have plenty of parking in downtown,” Henry said. Mittiga said the school is now looking for permanent parking for staff and teachers.

At least one neighbor of the school is upset about the parking situation. Philip Miron, managing partner of Hyden, Miron and Foster law firm at 200 Louisiana St., has met with school and city officials to express his concerns. “It doesn't seem like anyone cares about our parking situation,” he said. “The city needs to give us some concessions.” The firm employs 25 to 30 people at any one time, he said, and can't accommodate all of them in its own spaces behind its building, and clients need a place to park as well.

Miron said he wasn't opposed to the charter school, but he thought it ought to have taken the needs of its neighbors into account. He also said the firm will challenge the plans, if necessary. “If we have any due process here we're going to take advantage of it.”

Gus Vratsinas employs 70 to 75 people at his construction company, VCC, at 216 Louisiana, he said. “We think it will cause added congestion around here. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.” But he was resigned to the traffic plan. “I've lived with change all my life. … What are you going to do?”

Vratsinas would like to see the school landscape its property in such a way that it both complements the Capital Hotel, which just underwent a costly major renovation, and buffers sound from the playground the school will create on the north side of the building in what is a parking lot now. “We live by a higher standard now,” he said.

The school's Urban Use zoning prevents outdoor workspaces (such as car dealerships), so e-STEM will have to get a variance for its playground. Mittiga said the school will plant nine trees around the playground property and install secure, but attractive, fencing. A hearing on the variance is set for March 31 before the Board of Adjustment. Monte Moore, zoning administrator for the city, said the board could place certain conditions on the use of the playground, such as restrictions on operating times.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • 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.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

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

 

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