by Max Brantley
Update on an item here Sunday in which the MoveArkansas blog was quoted as complaining about tree removal and walkway removal on a parking lot north and west of the Big MAC building on the Capitol grounds.
Contrary to an impression I left elsewhere, this project was entirely the work of the Arkansas Building Authority, not the secretary of state’s office, whose Capitol grounds supervision doesn’t include parking lots related to various agency buildings.
Anne Laidlaw, director of the Building Authority, said the agency had only recently had the necessary money to complete work long needed on the Big MAC lot, which she said was potholed, poorly lit and in need of better striping for pedestrian use. She said the trees that were removed were a hazard because of falling limbs and many had impacted roots. "It was just a matter of time before we had a big damage claim," she said. She said foresters reviewed the tree removal plan.
She said some additional parking spaces will be created by this work and separate modification of a lot for the Career Services building on the west end of the mall, but the number will be relatively small. The $400,000 work will mostly go to overlay, better striping (both for cars and pedestriasn), better lighting and more security cameras. She said the secretary of state’s office oversees drives and a parking committee that office controls will meet this week on closing a dangerous one-way drive exiting the Career Services parking lot.
Laidlaw commented, however: “We are woefully deficient in parking. We’ve desperately needed more parking for a long time.”
There's a great deal of open parking space even farther west on the Capitol grounds. Some employees make use of those spaces and shuttle bus services are operated during legislative sessions some some other times. For now, though, plans for Capitol access are still more about cars than buses or bikes or pedestrians.