Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Consensus building for I-30 plan

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 3:26 PM

HOW ABOUT A MALL Y'ALL? New I-30 design would allow grassy expanse from Cumberland to Clinton Library alongside the downtown library.
  • HOW ABOUT A MALL Y'ALL? New I-30 design would allow grassy expanse from Cumberland to Clinton Library alongside the downtown library.

When Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, tweeted last night that the latest Interstate 30 widening plan looked like a winner for many major interests, I  sensed the emergence of a power brokers consensus on the plan the Arkansas Freeway Department is going to talk about with the public tonight from 5 to 8 p.m.  at the Wyndham in North Little Rock. Rutherford wrote:

Apparent winners in I-30 compromise 10-lane plan (6 interstate-4 access): Clinton Presidential Park; @RiverMarket district; NLR; commuters
Esay for him to say, I countered. I work in the River  Market. I don't buy the need for 10 lanes —  or necessarily a freeway through town to begin with. The Clinton facility has been behind the plan from the start, even in its original form. City leaders didn't much care as long as something was done about the Cumberland-Clinton-LaHarpe intersection. Tonight, I'll be interested to hear what some of the broader interests have to say, including some of the design experts who've floated a lot of original thinking about handling traffic through Little Rock. 

Contrary views probably don't matter in the first round of decision making. If the Highay Department gives ANYTHING, it's more than they want to give, particularly if the mayor, Clinton Library leaders and similar get behind it A lawsuit testing the environmental review might have something further to say about that. But in the meanwhile, add another important voice with support for a major change in the plan — Nate Coulter, director of the Central Arkansas Library System. He's issued this statement:

In anticipation of tonight's Public Involvement Meeting to discuss the modified plans to widen the interstate at the river bridge, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) recognizes that our patrons have a wide range of opinions regarding the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's 30 Crossing project.

From our perspective in the River Market, the most recent proposal is an attractive development with some very clear benefits for the CALS Main Library campus. The removal of the I-30 2nd Street ramps will create significant new greenspace beside the library and easier access to the library from the south. This will become increasingly important as growth continues in the River Market District.

I invite all interested parties to use our library's many resources in the library and online to study this or any other activity of state, local, or federal government that affects our communities.
Removing the Second Street ramp would allow creation of a grassy mall envisioned by the library some time ago that would stretch from Cumberland Street to the Clinton Library (see above). Not a bad thing. This change would move the exit from the freeway to Fourth Street for southbound drivers and Ninth Street for northbound, with ongoing westbound traffic funneled over to Capitol Avenue and Sixth Street. There'dalso  be a "Texas turnaround" to guide exiting traffic to Third Street.

At this moment, it's not clear what's to be done about the Clinton/Cumberland/LaHarpe intersection. But, if the Second Street ramp was gone, it would eliminate a lot of the speeding traffic that tears through that pedestrian-heavy intersection. This change necessarily slows movement from I-30 to points along LaHarpe/Cantrell/Highway 10. Some will object to that.

Below is a Highway Department description for the move from a Second to Fourth exit.

click to enlarge df64355a-72d4-44e0-b570-ddca5974c109.png

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