by Max Brantley
We aim to please. A reader inquired about the mission of an Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department survey crew that worked a couple of days last week on Rebsamen Park Road, along the stretch between Sherrill Heights and the dam. Was this a sign of a quiet move to hasten the long-fought extension of Rebsamen over Jimerson Creek as a speedy expressway for Alltel execs to western homes?
No such a thing. The Highway crews were on an esoteric mission that has them mapping elevations at spots all over town for use in planning future work. But, the spokesman insisted, no future work is planned on this corridor.
But we did check in with Metroplan, too. It's nearing completion of a study of traffic in the Riverdale area, a followup to a report by UALR. The study will likely spawn recommendations to ease problems at some obvious bottlenecks, such as Rebsamen and Cantrell. Neighbors like me are anxious. One man's bottleneck is another man's protection against turning a quiet neighborhood like Hillcrest into a dangerous thruway for people fleeing to the suburbs or a pastoral riverfront drive into a turnpike for the privileged. More on this when we have it. No offense to Metroplan and all, but the last time it stepped into a civic controversy (Lake Maumelle), you know what happened.
UPDATE: Metroplan doesn't recognize the state Freedom of Information Act. Though it is publicly funded and though it has a copy of a draft report on the traffic study, it is refusing to release it to me before final edits and additions. I'm aware of no legal exception to keep this public documents secret just because it hasn't been amended sufficiently. I smell a rat. I have made a formal FOI request. No dirty pictures here on which to mount a spurious claim of privacy.
UPDATE II: After further discussion, Metroplan is rounding up the documents. I've requested. I understand the desire to withhold preliminary drafts, but Director Jim McKenzie kindly agrees that I'm entitled to see the documents and cautions that I take care in avoiding items that have been corrected, etc. Will report later.