A new design for 30 Crossing: No, not narrower. | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A new design for 30 Crossing: No, not narrower.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 6:44 PM

click to enlarge 16_30crossingpublichearing_downtownpeakhourtrafficvolumes.jpg

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has made a few changes to the 30 Crossing project that will widen the seven-mile Interstate 30 corridor through North Little Rock and Little Rock, the most significant for downtown Little Rock being the creation of a four-lane Second Street from Mahlon Martin Drive east of I-30 to Cumberland Street west of I-30. The new street would serve as relief from traffic to and from the interstate, to be concentrated at Fourth Street.

In addition to replacing the I-30 bridge, the $630 million project would widen the interstate from six to 10 lanes, adding "collector-distributor lanes" for entry and exit from the six through lanes.

For downtown Little Rock, here's what the plan means for I-30 traffic.

If you are driving south on I-30 to Little Rock, you'll get on a CD lane west of the through lanes shortly after crossing the river; they will empty onto Fourth Street. If you are headed from there to areas west, you'll then take Fourth — which will be a three-lane street, with one eastbound lane and two westbound, to Cumberland. If you want to go east of the Interstate, you'll turn left at Fourth and go under the interstate. There will also be a one-way horseshoe off the southbound CD lane and under the interstate to Third Street if you want to avoid Fourth Street.

If you are driving north on I-30 and want to exit into Little Rock, you'll exit at Sixth Street and head to Fourth to get on the C-D lane.

If you want to get to North Little Rock from the Little Rock west of I-30, you have two choices: You can take the relief route: Second Street from Cumberland to a four-lane Mahlon Martin (the street just east of I-30 that runs along the Clinton Library property), and Martin south two blocks to Fourth and the northbound CD lane there. Or you can take Fourth Street from Cumberland for a more direct route to the northbound CD lane east of I-30.

The benefit of the new four-lane Second Street, project manager Ben Browning said, is that it takes pressure off downtown's residential areas south of Fourth. There may be an engineering hiccup with the trolley's power lines, he said. Too, Fourth Street will lose its parking spaces to make way for the new eastbound lane.

Tom Fennell, who has advocated for a boulevard at grade rather than a big, fat concrete division between east and west downtown, said the Environmental Assessment that ARDOT has prepared does not consider any impacts beyond a narrow seven-mile stretch along the interstate. According to Fennell, the 3,992-page document includes such plans as filling in part of Fourche Creek and digging ponds around the freeways as mitigation. It does not address the additional road widening that a wider I-30 will require to the circle of interstates around the city. Its economic environmental justice section, according to Fennell, says the area is already poor, so the impact will be minimal. Not having read the plan, I can't swear to Fennell's description, but I don't doubt him, either. You can find the EA here.

Asked if the widening project's impact on downtown Little Rock troubled him, mayoral candidate Baker Kurrus said he would be "troubled by anything that has so many people concerned," but that there was little the Little Rock mayor could do.

Mayor Stodola was all for the original split-diamond plan designed by ARDOT because it would create a large green space where the on and off ramps at Second Street are now. The new plan bisects that green space with the four-lane Second Street, but if that does relieve traffic downtown, it may get a better reception from people worried about traffic in downtown neighborhoods.

An open house featuring roll maps and a traffic video will continue through 7 p.m. at the Riverfront Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock. ARDOT employees are there to help people understand the maps.

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