by Max Brantley
It was certainly nice to see outgoing North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays join my call yesterday for a new Arkansas River bridge crossing in the Chester Street vicinity as opposed to a Broadway Bridge tear-down and two-year traffic nightmare. Don Zimmerman of the Arkansas Municipal League also contributed support for this common-sense idea.
There is a cost — huge — to major road disruption. Studies have shown some California freeway projects were so expensive and so disruptive that they never recouped the cost in supposed increased efficiency. This is somewhat reminiscent of our never-ending effort to make it easier for more people to drive to and from Saline County every day. The construction will never be enough. We need comprehensive ideas about housing patterns and transit — including rail and pedestrian- and bike-friendly ideas.
Pie in the sky, I know. And Debbie Pelly and her ilk are in the wings calling this a UN plot for one-world dominion.
Still, thanks Mayor Hays.
I didn't detect an iota of enthusiasm for the bridge designs floated yesterday — a choice of vanilla, home-style vanilla and mellorine vanilla. Even then, the projected cost has jumped by 33 percent. The dream of an architectural monument has sunk without a trace, as you probably suspected it would if left to the cost-conscious Highway and Transportation Department.
Maybe it's not crazy to talk common sense — a cheaper and quicker no-frills new span and then further talk about a monument at Broadway when somebody has an idea where to find the money necessary to build it.
If not, said Hays in a D-G article, "It's going to be a zoo around here for two years or thereabouts." Amen.