Neighborhood group fights Interstate 30 plan | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Neighborhood group fights Interstate 30 plan

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 6:49 AM

THEN WHAT: The I-30 bridge must be replaced. But must the attendant freeway changes damage city neighborhoods?
  • THEN WHAT: The I-30 bridge must be replaced. But must the attendant freeway changes damage city neighborhoods?

Last night's Little Rock City Board hearing on Interstate 30 plans produced more of Highway Department promises to "tweak" and otherwise address concerns raised about the massive construction project.

(Leslie Peacock will have a cover story next week about the sweeping implications and many questions concerning this project.)

Tweaking is exactly what produced the ill-conceived Second Street connector between Interstate 30 and Highway 10. (Not that preserving the new downtown that the River Market has become — the aim of the 2nd Sreet "tweak" — is a bad idea then and now.) The whole project shows a singular lack of big-picture concern for — not just moving traffic — but neighborhood consequences and means of transportation other than the car.

Reports from private meetings with highway officials have, to date, provided scant evidence that the highway department has a bigger picture than moving more freeway traffic faster. Perhaps continuation of the planning process and completion of an environmental impact study will prove us wrong. Meanwhile, local people are standing up to be counted.

Worth repeating is a letter from Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods, to Mayor Mark Stodola and the Little Rock Board:

Ten lanes of I-30 across Little Rock would change the face of our community permanently. The pressure to widen I-630 to 10 lanes next would be impossible to resist, and that would damage many neighborhoods. We live today with harm from the original construction of these interstates; please prevent further damage and insist on cutbacks. A new bridge and 6 lanes is what we can afford.

This is the policy decision of a generation, and part of Little Rock history. We must get all the details on this project – what else did consultant engineers recommend? We only saw the one proposal the state preferred.

This costs more than available funding; we need financing details. Is that future federal allocation to the state that would repay this loan assured? That money already is allocated to other projects; who loses if this project gets the cash? The city struggles today with revenue shortfalls and cutbacks in public works; surely, you must object to spending so far beyond our means on this I-30 expansion.

Our health is at stake if this project gets built. More vehicles means more pollution. An AARP health report said research shows for every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic near your home, your risk of stroke increases by 10 percent.

Create your own Cost/Benefit Analysis, and calculate costs such as harm to downtown redevelopment & East LR redevelopment & Historic District redevelopment; added smog; added noise; pressure to widen other highway segments to relieve future congestion; loss of tourist trolley services to Presidential Library, as well as repayment of millions to federal agencies; harm to needed bus service expansion; increased risk across our business district as pedestrians cross Hwy. 10 intersections along what had been Second, Fourth, Chester & State Streets; loss of cycling routes; etc.

Mayor Stodola, we recognize you have a pivotal role in this project. We intend to make such a strong case against the current proposal that you will agree, and vote No, when the Metroplan Board takes up a state request for a waiver of its six-lane limit for highways, so 10 lanes could be built. As the Board member and officeholder where the project would be built, your position will guide Board action. They will uphold you. Stop this bad plan and bad financing.

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