by Max Brantley
Dear Mr. Bennett:
The Downtown Little Rock Partnership (DLRP) requests a moratorium in the planning process on the “30 Crossing” projects. We are concerned that the current plan design will be detrimental to our downtown. In the past weeks, we have heard repeatedly from our members and other stakeholders for the need to “press the pause button” and develop a plan that has the most positive overall impact on downtown.
There is no doubt the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is very good at what it does, as are the engineers it employs. We request time to plan a course of action that will accomplish your goals as well as ours and reach a consensus we can support. The Downtown Little Rock Partnership looks to convene meetings of City of Little Rock and Pulaski County officials, Rock Region Metro, Metroplan, business interests, property owners, and the engineers working on the project, and use their collective expertise to develop a plan that is in the greatest interest of downtown.
Specifically, some of the concerns are:
• How many lanes are really needed? Is there enough traffic during the course of the day to justify such a significant increase in the number of lanes? Can traffic pressure be alleviated without such a tremendous expansion and expense?
• Pedestrian, bicycle and public transit access and safety is a concern for the city and downtown. We want to develop a plan that will maintain access for each of those modes to the east of I-30.
• The interchange at 2nd street as a whole, and particularly turning 2nd street into a three-lane state highway.
The Downtown Little Rock Partnership is not satisfied with the current plan, and the likely negative impact it will have on the tremendous strides our neighborhood and city has made in recent years. We are asking for a 120-day moratorium in order to correctly assess the needs of downtown and suggest a plan that will serve those needs, while still accomplishing the original goals of replacing an aging bridge. The DLRP will be a facilitator in this process, and work with the vested parties to develop the best course of action for our great city.