Midnight hour: 30 Crossing study in, city letter being drafted, Metroplan releases its comments. | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Midnight hour: 30 Crossing study in, city letter being drafted, Metroplan releases its comments.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 7:48 PM

click to enlarge DOUBLE WIDE: That's what the new I-30 would be for 7 miles, allowing for traffic to quickly move through downtown, and into bottlenecks remaining in the rest of the interstate system.
  • DOUBLE WIDE: That's what the new I-30 would be for 7 miles, allowing for traffic to quickly move through downtown, and into bottlenecks remaining in the rest of the interstate system.

The city's consultants that examined the Arkansas Highway and Transportation's plan to widen Interstate 30 to 10 and 12 lanes provided the mayor and board of directors a white paper this week that they say should serve as background for a work session with AHTD, though the deadline for comments to the highway department is tomorrow, June 10. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Stodola and City Manager Bruce Moore have already drafted the city's official comment to AHTD and have asked board members to append their comments to it before it is submitted tomorrow. Stodola, who is out of town this week, said Monday he received a draft of the white paper but would not release it to the Times, saying it was only a draft. 

The white paper, by Nelson\Nygaard, Gateway Planning Group and Ferrell Madden, is dated June 7; it got to the board yesterday, city spokesperson Bryan Griffith said. The consultants presented their findings informally to the board a couple of weeks ago. The city paid $75,000 for the consultants' work.

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-06-09_at_2.27.58_pm.png
I'm not sure how the city board and mayor were supposed to have held a work session to reach a "meaningful position" given the time frame. I am trying to reach the city manager and board members for comment.

After an introduction providing background to the 30 Crossing debate, Nelson\Nygaard et al. take the position that the highway department's starting point — that the new interstate meet Level of Service D (providing for eight car lengths between cars at speed limit) — is flawed:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-06-09_at_3.03.59_pm.png
The study goes on, but these are core issues. 

Meanwhile, Metroplan has also made its comments on the project to the highway department. It gets down in the weeds, saying, among other things, that the AHTD needs to rerun its simulations, noting that modeling assumptions were in error:

The I-30 study team correctly identified two primary bottlenecks impacting traffic exiting the I-30 corridor: (1) the two lane ramp from I-30 Eastbound to I-40 Eastbound and (2) the merge of I-30, I-440, and I-530 west of and outside of the study corridor. However, the two bottlenecks were treated very differently. The bottleneck within the study corridor was ignored in the 8-lane alternative, and the bottleneck outside the study corridor was widened. It should not be acceptable to refuse to fix an identified bottleneck completely within the study corridor (two-lane ramp as part of the eight-lane alternative) but at the same time fix a bottleneck on I-30 outside the study corridor for which there is no identified funding and which has not been subjected to environmental review. It is even more unacceptable to compare alternatives as if it were an apple to apple comparison. Until an eight lane option is presented that fixes the two lane ramp bottleneck, the results are incomplete and insufficient for consideration.
Casey Covington, the Central Arkansas Regional Transportation Study director, writing for Metroplan, says the AHTD ought to reconfigure the eight-lane alternative to fix the bottleneck within the study area; rerun the simulations without assuming unfunded widening outside the study area; compare the performance of the interstate using the previous two modifications; and make those new models available to the public to study.

Metroplan also says the "split diamond" plan, which would move the Second Street exit to Fourth Street would create an "overwhelming amount of traffic in the PM commute."

"At major cross streets, the potential for significant conflicts exist. Once again, the utility of a new bridge over the river at Chester Street and providing additional options for traffic leaving downtown becomes evident."

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