Thursday, June 23, 2016

AHTD asks Metroplan to lift six-lane freeway cap

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 1:36 PM

click to enlarge "Induced Demand," painting on wood panel by Susan - Chambers, on exhibit at New Deal/Gallery Studios.
  • "Induced Demand," painting on wood panel by Susan Chambers, on exhibit at New Deal/Gallery Studios.

In a letter dated June 17, the state highway department finally made its formal request to Metroplan that the Central Arkansas planning agency lift its six-lane cap on freeways, a request long anticipated to allow the widening of Interstate 30. Highway department Director Scott Bennett asked that the Metroplan board act on the request at its June 29 board meeting.

That won't be possible, however, the board has informed the state highway department. Consideration of the request should take four months, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wrote June 22 to Bennett.

Unless Metroplan amends its Imagine Central Arkansas plan, the highway department can't go forward with its plans to widen the interstate from  six to 10 lanes (and more, depending on auxiliary lanes) through downtown North Little Rock and Little Rock. 

"Ten days lead time is insufficient to do that in time for the June Board meeting consistent with our adopted planning and public involvement procedures," Fletcher wrote Bennett. "I am referring your request immediately to the Metroplan staff and the RPAC [Regional Planning Advisory Council] so that they can begin work on it. ... I believe Mr. [Jim] McKenzie [the Metroplan director] has previously provided you a time estimate for the plan amendment/TIP process to take approximately four months from the time the draft Environmental Assessment was completed and urged you to incorporate such a window into the project timeline, which I assume you have done."

The mayor said the board would "make every effort" to act promptly on items that must be decided before a FONSI (finding of no significant impact) can be issued by the Federal Highway Administration. Those items include Metroplan's policy on the freeway through lanes and the amendments to Imagine Central Arkansas and Metroplan's Transportation Improvement Plan.

You can read Bennett's letter here. Read Mayor Fletcher's letter here.
The state's transportation plan (the STIP) and Metroplan's TIP are in agreement on funding for Central Arkansas road expenditures. So all projects are a go, with the exception of 30 Crossing, which is the name the agency has given to the widening project. In addition to the change to lift the six-lane cap, project descriptions will have to be amended to add widening to approved operational improvements and reconstruction. The highway department has not yet made that request of Metroplan, nor does it appear in its own STIP.

Highway department engineer Ben Browning said a draft of the project's Environmental Assessment should be complete by fall, and the Federal Highway Administration could issue the FONSI early next year. The highway department is "still on schedule to have the design builder on board by the end of 2017," Browning said. The agency will release a draft of the request for qualifications so potential applicants can get an idea of what's to come, Browning said.

Browning said the highway department understands that "there is a process" that Metroplan has to follow. The letter from Bennett, he said, was just to "start the process." Browning added that the agency is still going through all the comments it received from the public on the widening of I-30 and should be able to release the summary in the next couple of weeks.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Waltons top list of state givers

    No surprise here, but the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the names of the top givers in Arkansas are Walton and Walton — Jim and Robson, that is.
    • Jun 20, 2017
  • LR gets $1.6 million for River Trail ramp and fix

    The city of Little Rock got word today that it will receive $1.6 million in a Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant to build a ramp to the $1.1 million bridge it's building over the railroad tracks at the western end of the Medical Mile, which begins in Riverfront Park and ends at the tracks abutting the Dillard's headquarters. (The bridge is being built with a state grant of $1 million and sales tax revenues.)
    • Jun 16, 2017
  • Agave Grill: Mexican-American fusion in Benton

    Agave Grill will feature “Mexican-American fusion” cuisine — that is, it will have Mexican dishes like handmade pork tamales, enchiladas, “street tacos,” fajitas and tortas; American favorites like ribeye and New York strip steaks, ahi tuna and salmon; and the fused: you’ll be able to order a hamburger made with taco seasoning, queso and avocado, for example, or a steak rubbed with ancho chili.
    • Jun 14, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Polling reported in Democratic Senate primary; includes Bill Halter

    A friend reports an interesting automated poll Thursday night, relating to one announced and perhaps another potential Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.
    • Nov 7, 2015
  • 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
  • Trump bombs on Saturday Night Live

    Correct me if you think otherwise, but commentary across the web seems unanimous that Donald Trump's turn on "Saturday Night Live" wasn't funny.
    • Nov 8, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson lobbyist moves to Teacher Retirement System

    Rett Hatcher, director of legislative affairs for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has left the governor's staff to go to work Wednesday as deputy director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments




© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation