Metroplan advisory panel says no to waiver of six-lane limit | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Metroplan advisory panel says no to waiver of six-lane limit

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 3:27 PM

click to enlarge ROCK REGION METRO'S BECCA GREEN: "You can't presume cars will be the preferred choice of transportation 20 years from now."
  • ROCK REGION METRO'S BECCA GREEN: "You can't presume cars will be the preferred choice of transportation 20 years from now."
By a vote of 20-3, Metroplan's Regional Planning Advisory Committee  Council today voted against lifting the Central Arkansas transportation plan's limit of six through-lanes on interstates to accommodate the state highway department's plan to widen Interstate 30.

The RPAC vote was contrary to the Metroplan staff's recommendation, which was to lift the cap on the section of I-30 between its north and south terminal interchanges as "the first step for achieving the goals of system efficiency, interchange improvements, and safety improvements as identified in the adopted [Imagine Central Arkansas] Plan. ... The waiver allows for more creative solutions within the corridor to be fully considered." However, the staff said the recommendation to allow the waiver was not an endorsement of any of the four highway widening proposals made by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. "There remains significant concern about the system impacts of a significant widening in the corridor and those impacts' effect on the financially constrained long-range transportation plan, which have yet to be determined," the staff recommendation said.

A few members of the RPAC expressed unhappiness with the staff recommendation and public comment on the waiver was more negative than positive, CARTS Study Director Casey Covington said. Of the 260 comments on whether the six-lane cap should be lifted, received between July 24 and Aug. 23, 147 were against it, 106 favored removal of the cap and seven simply expressed concerns. 

The nay vote, which followed a failed vote on allowing the waiver on a motion by Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Hathaway, was expected. RPAC members have repeatedly said that they do not believe all alternatives to an improved, but six-lane, highway have been explored, expressed fears that approving a waiver will give the AHTD unfettered leeway to build whatever it wants through downtown Little Rock and predicted that the project will require costly widening of the highways linking to I-30. Connie Coreen Frasier, a representative of Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, said the $637 million price tag for the seven-mile project was too much, and the money could be spent better on other things.

Becca Green, representing Rock Region METRO, said the AHTD plan would set back public transportation in Central Arkansas. Reading from a prepared statement, Green said that highway Director Scott Bennett's claim in a letter to RPAC that the "voting public" does not support public transportation was wrong. "I don't think coming up a little short during the first ballot initiative to fund public transit in 12 years means there is no support in our community for public transit investment. ... You can't presume cars will be the preferred choice of transportation 20 years from now, you can't presume no one wants to wants to invest in public transit just because we Central Arkansans are essentially forced to drive cars today in our unbalanced car culture infrastructure, and you can't presume Rock Region METRO won't be successful in gaining more funding."

Does it matter? Probably not. The full board is expected to approve the waiver. But will that settle things? Nope. As Metroplan Director Jim McKenzie clarified in response to Leesa Freasier, representing the Arkansas Department of Health, who had asked whether the "monstrosities" proposed by the highway department would be built if the waiver were granted, before the project can receive federal funds, Metroplan must amend its five-year Transportation Improvement Plan and its long-range Imagine Central Arkansas Plan. It can't do that until it sees the 30 Crossing Environmental Assessment details of the project and has examined a system impact analysis now being prepared.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Third Friday in Argenta: Artwalking to see Southern landscapes and more

    Works by some of Arkansas's most distinguished artists, including the late Al Allen and Carroll Cloar, along with famed regionalist Thomas Hart Benton make up part of the offerings in "Southern Landscapes," a new exhibition at Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.) opening with the monthly Third Friday Argenta ArtWalk tonight.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • 'Sign of the Times': Political posters at CHARTS

    Hendrix College's Dr. Jay Barth will give a talk and sax player Dr. Barry McVinney and pianist Mark Binns will provide the music at tonight's opening of "The Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster" in the Windgate Gallery at UA Pulaski Tech's CHARTS (The Center for Humanities and Arts). The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • GiGi's opens with soul food and 'old school R and B vibe'

    GiGi’s Soul Cafe and Lounge at 10840 Maumelle Blvd., where the Nashville Rockin Grill was located, opened July 28 and co-owner Darrell Wyrick the restaurant is “bringing back the spirit of some of the places that have gone, like Porter’s and The Afterthought” with its soul food and “old school R and B vibe.”
    • Aug 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods

    Vox, a news website that concerns itself with energy and other issues, has a fine piece, including before and after images, on the history of the U.S. interstate system and why roads were built through the middle of cities (unless people of influence stopped them — see Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.)
    • Mar 22, 2016
  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Troubles mount for Sen. Jake Files. Maybe others, too

    Sen. Jakes Files has serious problems, based on an FBI affidavit filed Monday in Fort Smith. One new question is how many other legislators have problems based on spending of state surplus money?
  • There is life other than football, UAMS indicates

    UAMS has announced that it will be open for business as usual on Aug. 31, even though a football game will be taking place that night at War Memorial Stadium.
  • Another bank acquisition for Arvest

    Arvest Bank, the Walton banking enterprise, is acquiring Bear State Financial, led by Richard Massey, for $391 million, all cash. Bear State, based in Arkansas, has 42 branches and other operations in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
  • LR discussion set on cuts in state aid for disabled

    The Center for Arkansas Legal Services and  Legal Aid of Arkansas will have a public meet from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at the downtown library at 100 S. Rock on cuts in the state-run Medicaid program for home-care for people with disabilities.
  • Legislators set 'town hall' on Little Rock School District

    A group of Little Rock legislators (not all of them, only Democrats so far) has organized a town hall meeting on the Little Rock School District from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the Old Supreme Court chamber at the state Capitol. We propose a few questions.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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