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Route non-locals around city 

Route non-locals around city

Across America, city after city has spent millions of dollars expanding interstate highways through their midsections only to discover that they quickly become recongested. We need only look at our nation's capital or Los Angeles to see the folly of this approach. By and large, people recognize and accept congestion in downtown areas. It's simply not realistic to expect that travel through downtown will not be slowed during rush-hour traffic. That being the case, does it really make sense to add more lanes to I-30 downtown? Isn't that just throwing more fuel on the fire? The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department tells us that over 40 percent of the traffic on I-30 between I-530 and I-40 is destined elsewhere. To reduce this load, why not simply: 1) relabel this section of I-30 as a U.S. highway only; and 2) redesignate I-430 as I-30W and I-440 as I-30E? Locals would continue using the relabeled, existing I-30 segment, but interstate-loving nonlocals would be effectively redirected to these less-traveled and more-modern interstate segments. If, for whatever reason, lanes are added to this existing I-30 segment, double-deck them and make the new lanes for through-traffic only. Avoid duplicating the horrible mistake of I-35 in downtown Austin.

Dale Pekar

Little Rock

Pulmonary fibrosis awareness

I have pulmonary fibrosis as do 100,000 other people in the U.S. Forty-thousand new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Forty-thousand people die each year from IPF. There are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of it. The death rate is 100 percent usually within 3-5 years after diagnosis. Right now I am stable and trying to cope with my future. The FDA originally requested more tests for a drug in 2010 that shows promise for slowing the progression of PF and may finally get approval as well as another drug in early 2015. Even though this disease is widespread and fatal, very few know about it. September is Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month. Join us in our fight. While these other diseases are terrible and I pray for those suffering, here are few comparisons:

ALS: More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis. About 20 percent of people with ALS live five years or more and up to 10 percent will survive more than 10 years and 5 percent will live 20 years. A total of 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year.

Breast cancer: Approximately 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,620 breast cancer deaths are expected to occur among U.S. women in 2013. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40 have slightly poorer prognoses than older women: Their five-year survival rate is about 82 percent, compared with 85 percent among women ages 40 to 74, according to the American Cancer Society.

Ebola: There have been more than 3,700 reported human cases and more than 2,300 deaths since the discovery of Ebola in 1976. Ebola has a mortality rate between 60 percent and 96 percent. While Ebola, the deadly disease spreading through parts of West Africa, has no cure, specific treatment or vaccine, there are several experimental drugs being tested in U.S. labs. Now the FDA has lifted its hold on one of those drugs. The current outbreak is not included in the figures, which to date has killed over 1,500.

Paul D. Lawson

Little Rock

From the web

In response to the feature on lawyer and petition drive supporter David Couch in the Aug. 28 cover story, "Visionaries":

My hat is off to David Couch. I moved to Illinois and it disgusts me that Illinois does not allow binding resolutions to be put on the ballot. I hope I am remembering/understanding correctly. Example: A group can collect signatures to put an issue on the ballot and even if 60 percent or say 80 percent of the people approved the issue, the Illinois legislature doesn't have to enforce the new law. This is great for issues like, say, gay marriage if the people DON'T want it, the legislature can pass same-sex marriage anyway. On the issue of, say, raising the minimum wage, allowing recreational marijuana, etc. ... it's not such a great idea. The people are at the mercy of crooked/corrupt legislators. I'm proud of my home state of Arkansas in many ways. No state is perfect, though.  Wishing my home state the absolute best and I will forever consider Arkansas home.

SocialistArkie

In response to Benjamin Hardy's report on the legislative hearing on merging teacher and state employee insurance, Arkansas Blog, Aug. 26:

Let's keep in mind that the teacher health insurance cost problem is due to four serious medical [claims] hitting at the same time, adding costs of $10 million in a single year, stripping all annual funds plus reserves for two years. That can happen to any insurance company, e.g., Tropical Storm Sandy, but even the largest public insurance company uses reinsurance with places like Lloyd's of London to cover themselves in the event of extremely unusual claims. Yes, it costs a lot of money, but when you have that "special" year with high claims, it keeps the firms solvent. Apparently the state either doesn't do that or underestimates the possible costs. The same phenomena could have hit the state program but since they pay a smaller percentage of the program's costs, they don't see the ups and downs so much.

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