The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge Susan Chambers, "Induced Demand."
  • Susan Chambers, "Induced Demand."
The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.

Highway department head Scott Bennett, in a June 17 letter to Metroplan, had asked the agency to abolish its six-lane cap on general purpose lanes. Jesse Jones told the board the agency is now requesting an exception instead, and asked for quick action so that 30 Crossing can go forward as planned.

Metroplan Director Jim McKenzie, noting that Metroplan has been asking the highway department to send its letter requesting the change since last fall, said his agency's Regional Planning Advisory Council can consider the highway department request at its July meeting and perhaps have a recommendation ready for the board's meeting later that month.

But it's not as simple as that. If the highway department wants Metroplan to make an exception, according to the Central Arkansas Regional Transportation Study Area's roadway design standards,it first "is expected to do a thorough analysis of alternative methods of meeting travel demand in the corridor with improved arterials and public transit. A thorough analysis of the impact of the induced traffic demand on local roadways as a result of the widening beyond six through lanes would also be required. The Metroplan Board may also consider conducting an independent analysis of widening proposals over six through lanes for its use and benefit."

That means the highway department has to make the case that improvements to the I-30 corridor can't be made with only six lanes — a case that has not been made in the opinion of many — and must fess up on the real financial impact of widening of I-30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock on the planning area's freeway system as a whole. Metroplan has to have that information to amend, for the federal government, its 20-year plan that includes what dollars will be required to achieve the plan.

What, for example, will the cost be to widen I-30 to 65th street from the I-530 intersection, the terminus of 30 Crossing? The widening is included in the highway department's models of impact on traffic — but no such project is yet in the works, nor has money been set aside.

The induced traffic that the widening of I-30 to 10 and in some places 14 lanes will produce (and which the highway department agrees will occur) will create jams down the road from 30 Crossing's limits; Metroplan has estimated the cost of fixing 30 Crossing-caused chokepoints at $4 billion.

The $630 million cost of the seven-mile project, along with the fact that Gov. Hutchinson has persuaded the state to divert general revenues to pay for highways, rather raise the gas tax, was noted over and over again by persons who rose to speak at the meeting today. Should we then be focusing only on freeways for our future transportation needs? Using general revenues means that future highway construction and upkeep will come at the cost of other public services and, architect Tom Fennell said, saddle future generations with debt. "Are you going to look back and say this was a good decision?" Fennell asked the board. 

Should the Metroplan board decide that it could make an exception to its six-lane limit, that would not be an endorsement of the $630 million 30 Crossing project, McKenzie noted after the meeting. The board cannot approve 30 Crossing until there is a definite plan to approve, which won't be until the highway department's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) draft plan is ready, sometime in the fall. The draft will give Metroplan access to the highway department's modeling so that it can make its own assessment of impact on the regional transportation system. What follows will be a four-month (estimated) process of review and public outreach on any change to the 20-year plan (known as Imagine Central Arkansas).

Others addressing the board today included Carol Young of the League of Women Voters, who said she would like to see accident data for the Big Rock Interchange's construction, thinking the accidents that will occur during construction of 30 Crossing could negate positive effects down the road; Trey Willis, a resident of downtown who said that "when you come from somewhere where things are done ... [he paused here] differently" you've got to wonder at why so much money will be spent to achieve so little; and engineer Dale Pekar, who questions the highway department's data and asked why we shouldn't have rush hour slowdowns. Barry Haas, an advocate for conservation, and Kathy Wells of the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods, both called for a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement to be made, rather than the Environmental Assessment that the road agency is conducting. Sharon Welch-Blair, who owns the Empress of Little Rock bed and breakfast, said the widening project would deter other business people like her from coming downtown.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Fayetteville, Fenix and art-making on Saturday

    If you're in Fayetteville this weekend, you can drop in on several workshops being held by the Fenix Fayetteville artists' cooperative at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St. downtown.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • UALR artist Mia Hall is off to Penland: UPDATE

    The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina has announced the hiring of Mia Hall, of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, as its new director.
    • Jul 19, 2017
  • ACLU asks court to enjoin antiabortion bills

    Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked Judge Kristine Baker to grant an injunction against four laws passed this year by the General Assembly that would: * Make abortion after 15 weeks riskier by outlawing what the medical profession considers the safest procedure, dilation and evacuation; * Require doctors to inform local police when an abortion performed on a teenager age 14-16 absent any indication of abuse and that police create a record of the teenager's abortion and be provided the fetal remains; * Require abortion providers to ask women seeking an abortion if they know the sex of the fetus, and, if they do, obtain all of their previous obstetrical records to determine if they have a "history of aborting fetuses" of a certain sex, as the lawyer for the state said today in court. * Require notification of a woman's partner — or abuser — that she intends to have an abortion, ostensibly so they can agree on the disposition of the remains of the fetus.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Ex-Hog Darrell Walker spotlighted for collection of work by black artists

    Former Razorback basketball player Darrell Walker and his art collection get a mention in today's New York Times in an article about the rising profiles and prices of black artists.
    • Nov 29, 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
  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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