An old world view | Arkansas Blog

An old world view

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I see from the morning paper that planning for the I-630/430 interchange work now will proceed, including widening I-630 to eight lanes from University Avenue west.

Shoot if you must this old gray head. It's a bad idea. No freeway expansion ever solved a traffic problem. It only creates newer and bigger ones (and experts have shown that you never recoup the time lost to the hassles of road construction).

The freeway handles existing traffic adequately except at rush hours. This project -- said to be $70 million but surely to be far more before it's over -- will only encourage more people to make inefficient commutes to far reaches of the city and suburbs.

County Judge Buddy Villines' vain call for mass transit options and study of the impact on adjacent arterial streets was a rare voice in the wilderness. He was rewarded with editorial condemnation in the Democrat-Gazette, which would be happy to see the city sprawl to Paron and beyond, with ever-widening freeways crammed with pollutant-belching cars.

As with everything else, Arkansas is behind the curve. After decades of feeding the myth of the advantage of ever-widening freeways, California has abandoned freeway construction as a solution to traffic problems. Some day, too, Arkansas will wake up.

Visit a city with a dense core. They are invariably more exciting. Little Rock is making some strides in that direction. It only makes sense as gas creeps over $4 a gallon. This is a step in the wrong direction.

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