by Max Brantley
Pulaski County leaders of Arkansas Community Organizations met last Saturday to discuss a number of issues including the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department’s (AHTD) 30 Crossing Project and the proposed $.25 sales tax for transit. We voted to oppose the current 30 Crossing Project and urge the AHTD to go back to the drawing board. We are in support of the resolution sponsored by directors Webb and Richardson.ACO is a descendant of Acorn, which fought a long and successful battle to force a redesign of the Mills Freeway. It still proved an incredibly negative feature of the city, with stark divisions on north and south. The downtown freeway is no different.
The 30 Crossing Project is too expensive and too disruptive. We should not allow the AHTD to ram through a project that many Little Rock citizens have serious concerns about. The ten lane expansion will bring more traffic and pollution to our city. The increased traffic flowing through the interchange will likely increase traffic on the I-630 corridor from downtown to University Avenue. We strongly oppose any plan to widen the Wilbur Mills freeway east of University Avenue.
Proponents of the 30 Crossing Project have mentioned the number of jobs that will be created, but have not mentioned who will have the opportunity to apply for those jobs. We strongly urge the AHTD to require contractors to target neighborhoods in Little Rock, North Little Rock and other communities with high unemployment and high poverty for new hires. Our economically depressed communities should be the first source for new workers on highway projects.
We also discussed the proposed quarter cent sales tax for transit. We need a strong transit system in Pulaski County that can serve as an alternative for commuters and can provide a safe and efficient way for people who do not drive to shop and get to work. We support the quarter cent for transit and urge the Little Rock City Board of Directors to publicly support the proposal.
We commend directors Richardson and Webb for their thoughtful and reasonable resolution and urge you to vote for it.