I-30 expansion: bad for downtown, legislator says | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I-30 expansion: bad for downtown, legislator says

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge The widened Interstate 30, which would widen the road by more than a third and create a wider divide between east and west.
  • The widened Interstate 30, which would widen the road by more than a third and create a wider divide between east and west.


State Rep. Warwick Sabin, whose District 33 includes part of downtown Little Rock, has issued a statement criticizing the state Highway and Transportation Department's plan to widen Interstate 30 to 10 lanes in advance of the public hearing at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in the gym of the Friendly Chapel Church of the Nazarene, 116 S. Pine St. in North Little Rock.

The construction would, among other things, widen the underpass that visitors to the Clinton Presidential Center and points east travel under on Clinton Avenue by more than a third. Sabin says the project, dubbed 30 Crossing, would "decimate the River Market" and further separate the east side from downtown. It would also encourage traffic to fly by the city. He suggests the AHTD follow the lead of major cities that have removed their urban interstates. As the executive director of the Innovation Hub technology center, he says this:
 
Statement on 30 Crossing Project

As the state representative for the legislative district that includes downtown Little Rock, I am very concerned about the current proposal to expand Interstate 30 in a way that would further divide neighborhoods, disrupt public transit, and degrade the unique culture and economic development potential of the area.

The 30 Crossing project was originally conceived to address the structural integrity of the Arkansas River bridge, and of course we should do whatever is necessary to repair and/or replace aging infrastructure to ensure public safety.

But it seems frivolous and short-sighted to further widen a freeway at the expense of a downtown streetscape that recently has been revitalized and continues to improve. After all, many cities around the country have been doing exactly the opposite by removing interstate highways from dense urban areas. (See Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Milwaukee, etc.)

The current design for the I-30 expansion would decimate the River Market and the area in front of the Clinton Presidential Center, which have become pedestrian-friendly landmark attractions that are contributing to the economic growth of our city. Furthermore, it would create an even starker dividing line between downtown and the neighborhoods to the east — much as I-630 did along the north/south axis when it was installed decades ago — just when there has been new business development and public transit that is actually deepening connections across the current I-30 corridor.

Yes, there is rush hour traffic on I-30, but that is perfectly normal. The highway flows just fine during all other hours of the day, and history shows that expanding roads usually doesn’t eliminate backups during peak times, but instead it simply invites more vehicular use.

If we are going to invest the time and money to think beyond replacing the I-30 bridge, then we should use that opportunity to be creative and innovative in how we direct traffic through and into our downtown area. We should pay attention to current trends — which demonstrate that high-density, pedestrian-friendly urban areas with robust public transit facilitate economic growth — while also anticipating the future, when multi-lane highways may no longer be as desirable.

In the end, we should be trying to entice people to live in Little Rock or pull over for a visit, as opposed to making it easier for them to live elsewhere or drive by more quickly.

In its current form, the 30 Crossing proposal creates more problems than it solves, and it would reverse all of the recent progress we have been making toward building a more vibrant, efficient, and unified city. We can do better, and I hope the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will embrace the challenge to make Little Rock a national model for how smart urban growth strategies can co-exist with their mission to move goods and people to and through our city.

Tags: , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (12)

Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Remains found in West Little Rock park could be Ebby Steppach's

    Though no identification has been made, human remains found in the West Little Rock park where Ebby Steppach's car was located in 2015 could belong to the missing teenager.
    • May 22, 2018
  • Two more deaths at Arkansas prisons

    The Department of Correction reported Sunday the deaths of an inmate at Brickeys, the East Arkansas Regional unit of the Department of Correction, and an inmate at the Varner unit in Grady, both in single-man cells, within 12 hours of one another.
    • May 21, 2018
  • 3rd Friday in Argenta means Art Walking

    There's new public art in Argenta that celebrates the North Little Rock's once-hated, now-embraced moniker "Dogtown." The sculpture was designed by Terry Bean and fabricated of steel. The Argenta Arts Foundation provided the photo above, plus information on tonight's art offerings, 5-8 p.m. on Main Street:
    • May 18, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas: Land of .......

    Welcome to Arkansas: Land of cowardly politicians, discriminatory laws, inhumane turkey drops and lots and lots of Trump voters.
    • Oct 8, 2016
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation