Fix one highway bottleneck, create another | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fix one highway bottleneck, create another

Posted By on Sat, Jan 7, 2017 at 10:39 AM

click to enlarge CONSTRUCTION BRINGS MORE CONSTRUCTION: A shot taken during the eight-year project to build the Big Rock interchange. - ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • CONSTRUCTION BRINGS MORE CONSTRUCTION: A shot taken during the eight-year project to build the Big Rock interchange.

Frank Fellone, who writes about traffic for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, caught the attention of readers this morning with his column about new traffic bottlenecks at the new Big Rock interchange of I-630 and 430, an eight-year, $160 million project.

Eastbound congestion in the morning rush is a particular problem. The fix? Fellone writes:

The solution? The Highway Department will take bids for a project early this year to add a fourth lane to I-630 in both directions between Big Rock and University Avenue. The lanes will be added on the outside. In a better world, this would have been done when the Big Rock was built, but the Highway Department didn't have sufficient dough at the time.
The comment set off one newspaper reader.

Why wasn't this done in the first place? Not enough money, Fellone says, though he doesn't attribute that explanation to any official.

Of course there's no mention that the fly-over design, forcing people to merge in a "zipper" fashion, which most people won't do, was a terrible design. There's no mention of how much this is going to cost, what obstacles it will present to drivers as the work is done, how long it will take or even when it will begin, how much it will cost, etc.

This is a front-page story. The highway department is incapable of designing or building functional highways.
The Highway Department has been talking about the need and plans for the I-630 widening project for some time. They'll also mention in passing that the demand created by improvements such as the new interchange is also going to be a huge and expensive problem if and when the 30 Crossing project to widen the concrete gulch through downtown Little Rock is created. It will add traffic on feeder roads, including I-630, that will eventually require still more "improvement." At a cost of hundreds of millions in dollars and much more in road frustration.

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