City Board gets resolution objecting to state freeze of highway spending | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, November 25, 2017

City Board gets resolution objecting to state freeze of highway spending

Posted By on Sat, Nov 25, 2017 at 8:47 AM

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The Little Rock City Board meeting Tuesday to set the agenda for the regular meeting the following week includes consideration of a draft resolution objecting to the state Department of Transportation blockage of Central Arkansas highway projects in a dispute related to the controversial 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 through the heart of the city.

Metroplan, the regional planning agency, is still considering a change of wording in its transportation plan that the highway department believes is necessary to allow the I-30 widening project to proceed. Metroplan thinks the change should await completion of an environmental assessment of the widening project, known as 30 Crossing. In retaliation, the state has cut off $232 million in spending on highway projects in the region. It says it is bound to do so by federal regulators, though federal highway administration spokesmen have yet to respond to questions on the point.

In the meanwhile, at least some members of the City Board, including Kathy Webb, are interested in making a statement on the issue. A resolution has been drawn up for City Board consideration. You can read it here.

It says Highway Director Scott Bennett's halt to spending has created a "tremendous hardship" on places that need work ranging from traffic signals to bridge rehabilitation to Interstate 630 widening. The resolution cites the rule particulars that Metroplan believes mean an immediate change in its traffic plan is not necessary and not an impediment to 30 Crossing planning.

The change Bennett wants boils down to two words. The resolution notes:

The issue is one of significant since the difference between “operational improvements,” and “capacity improvements,” is that “capacity improvements,” permits adding additional lanes of traffic to any plan, and Metroplan has not received assurances from ADOT that 30 Crossing will be built in a manner that is acceptable to the local governments of central Arkansas
The resolution calls on Bennett to rescind his freeze on spending.

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