WHAT IF? Planners once suggested removing this freeway exit and redevelopeing the ramp with parkland and new commercial development. The bay window on the library was included should the building's entrance ever be re-oriented to face south.
City Directors Kathy Webb and Ken Richardson yesterday released a resolution
that calls for the Little Rock City Board
to ask for broader study before the Arkansas highway department moves ahead with current plans to widen Interstate 30 through downtown to 10 lanes and disrupt existing downtown traffic patterns.
The meat of it:
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department should perform thorough analyses of additional possible Connecting Arkansas Program improvements within the 30 Crossing Project corridor, including, but not limited to:
(a) consideration of Metroplan’s Imagine Central Arkansas Plan,
(b) capital expenditures on public transportation options within the corridor such as bus rapid transit, light rail, and streetcars,
(c) additional options currently in use and being considered by other cities
It does NOT oppose the current plan, though its preamble states some scientifically supported facts that freeway builders such as City Director Lance Hines
challenge. For example, expanding roads to address congestion only creates congestion elsewhere. Hines think this is false, though the planners at the Highway Department and Metroplan don't.
Blogger Tim McKuin at MoveArkansas
makes the important point that this is a resolution no one should oppose.
If the City Board adopts the resolution (as it should) and if the AHTD sincerely listens (as it also should), then the ultimate outcome could very well still be a 10-lane mega highway. Or, as people like me hope, the outcome could be something like a surface boulevard planned in conjunction with Rock Region Metro and others to incorporate better public transit and biking and walking options from the beginning. Or, the outcome could be something altogether different and better. The point is is that AHTD's process so far has been heavily tilted toward producing a gigantic interstate cross section through downtowns Little Rock and North Little Rock. Anything different never had a chance of bubbling up to the top even if a far superior alternative exists. AHTD's metrics and filters have stacked the deck, weighted the dice, steered the ship, whatever analogy you want to use, toward unwaveringly producing from some sort of freeway expansion.
Yes. There were no serious looks at alternatives. They were cursorily addressed and quickly dismissed at the outset because what the highway department does is build freeways and then widen them. Period. Let's look at alternatives. Fairly. If they are unrealistic, too expensive, create unintended consequences? THEN let's reject them. But let's have a fair study.
And let's include removing the Second Street exit, with a different downtown entry, as one of the possibilities. Outside planners decades ago drew up a plan that would have made a mall from Cumberland Street to the old Choctaw Route station (now the Clinton School). The downtown library was designed so that it could be reconfigured to have the entrance face south, on the Second Street side of the library. Imagine replacing that swath of concrete with park and new land for commercial development all the way from Cumberland Street to the Clinton Library. That would be welcoming.