Favorite

STOP I-30 widening 

click to enlarge THE PLAN: Calls for a wider river of concrete. - ARKANSAS HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT
  • Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department
  • THE PLAN: Calls for a wider river of concrete.

Brave progressives stood tall in Little Rock in 1958 when Gov. Orval Faubus tried to fire school teachers suspected of supporting desegregation. STOP, for Stop This Outrageous Purge, was formed to support school board members who fought Faubus and oust those who didn't. They stopped the purge.

We need another STOP campaign. Stop This Outrageous Project — the 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock to as many as 10 lanes and replace the Arkansas River Bridge.

The bridge may need to be replaced. The south and north terminal interchanges could use improvement. But the city doesn't need a wider Berlin Wall between east and west in our city.

Some other cities have stopped building — even torn down — freeways. They carry huge subsidies from nonuser taxpayers. They don't ease congestion. San Francisco rose up to stop a freeway that would have ruined what is now one of the finest parts of town. Does it create some rush hour traffic jams? Yes. And so what?

The Arkansas Highway Department's ONLY interest in the 30 Crossing project is to move I-30 traffic through town quicker and to reduce congestion during perhaps 10 hours a week, a brief benefit to long-distance commuters, but at great cost to people who live here. In churlish Twitter posts over the weekend, Highway Department Director Scott Bennett, who lives in Bryant, indicated congestion was his primary concern and that there were reasons (hint, hint) people wanted to flee Little Rock. He complained at TV coverage of a recent public hearing, marked by criticism of the project.

State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) wrote cogently for the department to rethink this project. So has a consortium of architects, designers and builders. State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) urged the Heights Neighborhood Association to oppose the project as planned and it did. If work must be done, it should take every effort to mitigate damage to the city.

I-30 was planned at a time when mayors thought it good to blast high-volume freeways through the hearts of cities. The Mills Freeway, finally built after a protracted fight, created decay along its path and segregated the city. I-30 is lined by decay. Make it wider and it will only increase the decay. A current plan also calls for a ruinous new path between I-30 and Cantrell Road, along Second Street; truncation of the streetcar line east of the freeway, and other roadblocks to ready connections between the east and west sides of town.

This comes just as the east side of Little Rock is blooming. Already it has the Clinton Library and Heifer International, two brew pubs, a distillery and new plans for a mixed-used development anchored by the Cromwell architecture firm and a charter school. Hanger Hill has a row of new $200,000 homes, which are close enough to the freeway as it is, without encroachment of more lanes. The neighborhood is ripe for redevelopment. One of the state's most historic homes is being preserved there. A wall of concrete, particularly if done with the Highway Department's customary disdain for pedestrians and bicycles, will discourage all this.

They call this a half-billion project, but Metroplan says it's more like $4 billion counting maintenance. That doesn't count time lost during construction. It doesn't count future traffic accommodations for the disruptive influence. The Highway Department has been rapped for facilitating public discussions through an employee of a firm that will be paid commensurate with the size of the project. What, Bennett snarked on Twitter, they should use Warwick Sabin instead? No, but somebody without self-interest would be better.

It's time to look for alternatives to unending freeway construction. Why should it be state policy to subsidize suburban growth? Why not design feeder routes from ring bypasses, as the great cities do? Let people work out alternate schedules, or move, if they don't like weekday morning traffic jams. But don't punish Little Rock.

The Highway Department haughtily dismissed alternatives for its unimaginative Broadway Bridge replacement plan, accepting cosmetic embellishments only because the county paid for it. This bigger, more disastrous project also seems precooked. But study has begun on the possibility of a public interest lawsuit. Local people have begun speaking loudly, and must. The Corps of Engineers — and the "Keep Busy" attitude famously lampooned in George Fisher cartoons years ago — are but Tinker Toy builders compared with the highway lobby.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Dinner and dancing in Dogtown

    A good night out in Argenta. Looking for the theater? Consider "Sweet Charity."
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Saturday open line

    Post your thoughts here.
    • Jul 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

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