Thursday, April 5, 2012

Turn the Broadway Bridge into a park

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 9:20 AM

FROM BRIDGE TO PARK: If New York can do it with rail line, why not LR with Broadway Bridge.
  • FROM BRIDGE TO PARK: If New York can do it with rail line, why not LR with Broadway Bridge.

I wrote yesterday of my support for the recent push by Mayors Mark Stodola and Pat Hays for turning the Broadway Bridge into a pedestrian and bike corridor, plus plaza, connecting the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock. This, instead of tearing down the bridge, screwing up traffic for years and replacing it with a ho-hum span of limited aesthetic appeal and expanded use. Naturally, the Highway Department favors the latter course. They don't want to be bothered with delaying the non-emergency bridge replacement to come up with new plans for a traffic crossing farther upriver at Chester Street.

I got a letter today from reader Clyde Snider further endorsing the mayors' idea and elaborating on how this bridge could become sorely needed additional park space for Little Rock.

Before you join the unimaginative bunch at the highway department — and enabler Tom Schueck, who nominally represents Little Rock on the powerful Highway Commission — in the just-move-along chorus, I'd urge you to take a look at what New York City created by converting an abandoned rail viaduct, the High Line, into a masterpiece of an urban park. Good for property values, business, new development and human beings in general. Great cities and great leaders do great things like this. Mediocre public servants tear down a perfectly serviceable bridge to replace it with a yawner of a replacement, cause untold economic losses and offer unsupported claims that this is really good for us.

Snider wonders if any city can claim a park spanning a river. It could be our Hanging Garden of Broadway.

Here's one of the images prepared by Polk Stanley architects for this fine idea and there's lots more at Tim McKuin's MoveArkansas blog. ....

HANGING GARDEN OF BROADWAY: Visualizing a park over Arkansas River.
  • HANGING GARDEN OF BROADWAY: Visualizing a park over Arkansas River.

The critics of "another pedestrian bridge" downtown are too narrow in their vision. Don't think of it as a path between two cities, think of it as a destination. Think big. What we now think of as a bridge could become part of Broadway Park. We need more green area downtown and here is a great opportunity to get some without tearing down another historic building to get it. It would start at Markham Street and end at the ball park; in fact, think of the ball park and Robinson Auditorium as part of Broadway Park.

Like you, I've been trying since July to get our esteemed city, county and highway leaders to rethink the bridge plans. Slow down and do it right by crossing at Chester Street. Our ideas have been dismissed out-of-hand. Now the mayors have, all of a sudden, come up with the same idea.

The ONLY reason we're in such a hurry is the money. We act like the money will be burned and lost forever if we don't go with the present plan. The money will not be lost. It will be used for other projects in 2013. Redo the plan, do the studies and resubmit for money in 2016 or 2017. It not like the bridge is going to fall down on January 1, 2013.

What do you think of the Broadway Park concept and name?

Clyde Snider

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