Favorite

Can we get along? 


This column went to press before Tuesday night’s meeting of the Little Rock Board of Directors. A UALR group was scheduled to present a report on whether Rebsamen Park Road should be extended to the west to join River Mountain Road.

Alltel, which has 2,300 employees in Riverdale, wants the road extended to create another access point to the neighborhood besides three existing entries along Cantrell Road.

Rebsamen can’t be extended without a super majority vote of the City Board thanks to a 1992 referendum that prohibited bridging Jimerson Creek for auto traffic.

I got an advance look at the work by a UALR team headed by Angela Laird Benton, dean of the College of Professional Studies. The group realized instantly that Riverdale traffic flow was about more than a Rebsamen extension. It broadened its work and recommends more talk and long-term planning on a range of issues. Now the question: Can city governance be a collaborative process?

First, traffic studies are needed. Is there really a pressing need for a new Riverdale outlet? I pass key Riverdale intersections at rush hour twice daily and don’t find them a headache. It’s certainly painless compared with major cities. What traffic, and how much, would be served by opening this route (at Alltel, more than half its workforce lives outside Little Rock or in neighborhoods that wouldn’t use this link)? Are there Cantrell projects, such as center turn lanes and signal improvements that could help access? What are the pros and cons of improving existing street connections from the south that serve Riverdale? (Devastation to my Hillcrest neighborhood, for one. Anything that makes that cut-through speedier means more traffic in a quiet residential area. Overlook and surrounding neighborhoods are similarly affected.)

The studies could be done by April. Meetings of 20 or so representatives of interested parties could begin in May and perhaps reach recommendations by July.

What are the options besides Cantrell improvements? Maybe an extension of Rebsamen, but with a design to slow traffic, though cost and environmental impact remain huge questions. Maybe light rail to reduce car commutes. The Midtown Expressway, linking Cantrell and Interstate 630, will get a fresh look. These are big and expensive ideas, but if players knew they were in the works, they might be more willing to compromise on short-term fixes.

“Human engineering” will be discussed — carpooling, bicycle commuting and staggered start times for major workforces.

Compromise won’t be easy. Opponents of the road extension think Alltel has been calling the shots. Alltel thinks it has been dissed by the City Board, which remains reluctant to overturn the 1992 referendum. Six members might be willing to put the issue back on the ballot. It would likely be a repeat outcome, particularly if the argument against it was little more than economic blackmail by Alltel.

None of the fixes are cheap or easy, Brenton says. But they concern the vibrancy of a neighborhood that brings an ideal mix of business, residences, retail, parks and entertainment to the core city. You want to nurture it, not ruin it. Easier traffic flow might help. But it also might hurt.

The Rebsamen extension, by the way, requires difficult engineering at the connection with River Mountain road, three railroad grade crossings and potential conflicts with both a historic black cemetery and the expensive new pedestrian bridge over Murray Lock and Dam.

They said Little Rock and North Little Rock would never merge their water systems. With UALR’s guidance, they did. Talking and long-term thinking sound like good places to start here.




Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • 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
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The end of democracy in LR

    The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Internet looting continues

    The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

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  

Most Viewed

  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Art bull

    • the nice thing about art is that it is what it is, but what it…

    • on April 22, 2017
  • Re: Executionpalooza

    • Fantastic work-from-home opportunity for everyone... Work for three to five hrs a day and start…

    • on April 21, 2017
  • Re: Erasing humanity

    • Exactly how I feel only written much better than I could.

    • on April 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation