More opposition to Interstate 30 plan | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

More opposition to Interstate 30 plan

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 3:53 PM

click to enlarge RETHINK IT: Two more groups call for different ideas on the massive Interstate 30 widening project proposed by the Arkansas Highway Department.
  • RETHINK IT: Two more groups call for different ideas on the massive Interstate 30 widening project proposed by the Arkansas Highway Department.
Three neighborhood groups — one Hillcrest, one in Capitol View/Stifft Station and the Heights Neighborhood Association — have adopted resolutions opposing plans  to widen Interstate 30 to 10 lanes and devise a new funnel for traffic from I-30 to Highway 10.

Said the Hillcrest Residents Association:

Please be advised that the Board of the Hillcrest Residents Association, by a unanimous vote at our meeting last night, is opposed to the 30 Crossing Project as presently proposed. We believe that the project in its current form would be harmful to development in downtown and would limit future opportunities in the area. We ask that the project be put on hold pending a much more thorough evaluation of the impacts and potential mitigation thereof can be performed. Among other things, we primarily concerned with:

The effects on the River Market streetcar and non-vehicular traffic;
Protection and otherwise due consideration of previous and future development in the Downtown, River Market, Clinton Presidential Center and Hanger Hill areas and
Safety issues that currently exist with the Arkansas River Bridge.

The impact of any project concerning Interstate 30 and Arkansas River Bridge will be profound and of long duration. Generations of future Little Rock residents will be impacted by this project one way or the other. We ask that the Connecting Arkansas Program, our elected officials, Metroplan and the AHTD look beyond the short term and instead consider a visionary project that is more accommodating to pedestrians, bicyclists, hikers and public transportation along with the above-referenced development in the area. Such a visionary project would be more in keeping with the progressive city of the future that Little Rock aspires to be.

President of the Board

Said the Capitol Views/Stifft Station Neighborhood Association:

At our monthly meeting last night, we, the members of the Capitol View Stifft Station Neighborhood Association (CVSSNA), approved a resolution to oppose the current 30 crossing proposal. It would be bad for those in the Downtown area as well as for Central Arkansas as a whole.

We urge you to come up with an alternative proposal that will make Downtown a better place live, work and visit. And we know that when downtowns are vibrant and successful that metro areas also benefit.

The resolution from the Heights Neighborhood Association said;

The Heights Neighborhood Association strongly opposes the closure of any part of Cumberland Street and LaHarpe Blvd. in downtown Little Rock. The HNA finds it unacceptable that the over 6,700 additional vehicles a day (which currently use LaHarpe Blvd.) would be forced onto Second St. when exiting 1­30. Second St. is lined with the Historic Arkansas Museum, a large school, a hotel, a high rise office building, some trolley tracks, other offices and several large governmental buildings, without even mentioning what is on adjacent streets.
An increase in Second St. traffic from some 3,800 vehicles a day currently to over 10,000 vehicles a day (not to mention the fact that the current proposal for the street removes the already very limited parking located there and that it is a street that has many more traffic lights, stop signsand cross traffic than does LaHarpe Blvd.) and having the street be the sole major way to exit downtown Little Rock is simply poor public policy.

This proposed closure of vital transportation infrastructure does not in anyway serve the needs of the public or the downtown community.

Additionally LaHarpe Blvd., with its entrance and exit ramps at the Broadway Bridge, keeps meaningful levels of vehicular traffic off otherwise already crowded downtown Little Rock streets.

The HNA strongly believes this proposed traffic repositioning should be quickly rejected by the city, county, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and other involved parties. Having more than one major west bound traffic option off 1­30 downtown will always be a better choice.

The rising tide of community opposition probably explains why the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce pre-emptively last week declared the Highway Department's original plan just fine, though highway officials have claimed  that they are open to changes in their preferred $600 million plan. It is not too late to honestly examine all options, including a new route through town for interstate and commuter traffic, as other more vibrant cities have done. The chamber and its supporters — many in the construction business — are mired in the long ago. Nothing but good can come from building ever wider freeways to ever farther-removed places, they believe. The advocates of this thinking believe it will be the salvation of downtown, never mind that it has been reviving of late in spite of — not because of — divisive, decay-encouraging freeways.

UPDATE: The Highway Department is presenting an extended presentation to the Quorum Court tonight. No talk of reducing the 10-lane plan. No talk of a different bridge crossing and a reconfiguration of I-30 to something else. But they said planners would save the streetcar line, which was to be truncated east of the freeway. They promised to maintain east-west connections over I-30 in unspecified ways. They said planners are still looking at a way to improve safety at the LaHarpe/Cumberland intersection with Cliinton Avenue, but that work remains in process. Incremental stuff. No sweeping new looks at holistic approaches to highway planning.

The Highway Department noted that the project as designed would take two buildings out of the River Market area, on the east end of the commercial row along Clinton Avenue. It also pitched the 10-lane option as a way to assure that six lanes could remain open across the river during construction, This is short-term thinking of course. A bit less congestion during construction for a long-term plan that widens the freeway footprint isn't so enticing to those of us who live here, rather than merely drive through.

JP Tyler Denton said the Second Street corridor envisioned by the Highway Department didn't seem like a good idea.The Highway Department said the department had to balance downtown with the needs of commuters. Problem is, the highway department is so providing only degradation to downtown and only benefits to commuters. That isn't the balance said to be sought.

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