Favorite

STOP I-30 widening 

click to enlarge THE PLAN: Calls for a wider river of concrete. - ARKANSAS HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT
  • Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department
  • THE PLAN: Calls for a wider river of concrete.

Brave progressives stood tall in Little Rock in 1958 when Gov. Orval Faubus tried to fire school teachers suspected of supporting desegregation. STOP, for Stop This Outrageous Purge, was formed to support school board members who fought Faubus and oust those who didn't. They stopped the purge.

We need another STOP campaign. Stop This Outrageous Project — the 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock to as many as 10 lanes and replace the Arkansas River Bridge.

The bridge may need to be replaced. The south and north terminal interchanges could use improvement. But the city doesn't need a wider Berlin Wall between east and west in our city.

Some other cities have stopped building — even torn down — freeways. They carry huge subsidies from nonuser taxpayers. They don't ease congestion. San Francisco rose up to stop a freeway that would have ruined what is now one of the finest parts of town. Does it create some rush hour traffic jams? Yes. And so what?

The Arkansas Highway Department's ONLY interest in the 30 Crossing project is to move I-30 traffic through town quicker and to reduce congestion during perhaps 10 hours a week, a brief benefit to long-distance commuters, but at great cost to people who live here. In churlish Twitter posts over the weekend, Highway Department Director Scott Bennett, who lives in Bryant, indicated congestion was his primary concern and that there were reasons (hint, hint) people wanted to flee Little Rock. He complained at TV coverage of a recent public hearing, marked by criticism of the project.

State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) wrote cogently for the department to rethink this project. So has a consortium of architects, designers and builders. State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) urged the Heights Neighborhood Association to oppose the project as planned and it did. If work must be done, it should take every effort to mitigate damage to the city.

I-30 was planned at a time when mayors thought it good to blast high-volume freeways through the hearts of cities. The Mills Freeway, finally built after a protracted fight, created decay along its path and segregated the city. I-30 is lined by decay. Make it wider and it will only increase the decay. A current plan also calls for a ruinous new path between I-30 and Cantrell Road, along Second Street; truncation of the streetcar line east of the freeway, and other roadblocks to ready connections between the east and west sides of town.

This comes just as the east side of Little Rock is blooming. Already it has the Clinton Library and Heifer International, two brew pubs, a distillery and new plans for a mixed-used development anchored by the Cromwell architecture firm and a charter school. Hanger Hill has a row of new $200,000 homes, which are close enough to the freeway as it is, without encroachment of more lanes. The neighborhood is ripe for redevelopment. One of the state's most historic homes is being preserved there. A wall of concrete, particularly if done with the Highway Department's customary disdain for pedestrians and bicycles, will discourage all this.

They call this a half-billion project, but Metroplan says it's more like $4 billion counting maintenance. That doesn't count time lost during construction. It doesn't count future traffic accommodations for the disruptive influence. The Highway Department has been rapped for facilitating public discussions through an employee of a firm that will be paid commensurate with the size of the project. What, Bennett snarked on Twitter, they should use Warwick Sabin instead? No, but somebody without self-interest would be better.

It's time to look for alternatives to unending freeway construction. Why should it be state policy to subsidize suburban growth? Why not design feeder routes from ring bypasses, as the great cities do? Let people work out alternate schedules, or move, if they don't like weekday morning traffic jams. But don't punish Little Rock.

The Highway Department haughtily dismissed alternatives for its unimaginative Broadway Bridge replacement plan, accepting cosmetic embellishments only because the county paid for it. This bigger, more disastrous project also seems precooked. But study has begun on the possibility of a public interest lawsuit. Local people have begun speaking loudly, and must. The Corps of Engineers — and the "Keep Busy" attitude famously lampooned in George Fisher cartoons years ago — are but Tinker Toy builders compared with the highway lobby.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault on Obamacare begins

    Donald Trump Friday night signed an executive order directing government to scale back Obamacare to the extent possible. Though the signing was mostly symbolic, it likely has implications for Arkansas.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • Two dead in North Little Rock shooting

    two people were fatally wounded about 9 p.m. Friday in a home in the 1400 block of Division Street, North Little Rock.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • 2nd Amendment meets the 1st in Fayetteville on campus carry

    They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
    • Jan 20, 2017
  • More »

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

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More on LRSD tax

    When the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a Walton Foundation-paid lobbyist, long devoted critics of the Little Rock School District, lead the messaging for a quarter-billion dollars in new tax debt for the district, it is cause for caution.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

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

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Good one, Al. Hell hath no fury, and all that happy horse-shit. I hope Gene…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Make that "old hack."

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Oh dear - It is me, E.E.W - I'll confess - but not so much…

    • on January 20, 2017
 

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