A final boulevard draft, but will AHTD care? | Arkansas Blog

A final boulevard draft, but will AHTD care?

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The I-30 boulevard looking south from the Arkansas River, as envisioned by Fennell Purifoy architects.
  • The I-30 boulevard looking south from the Arkansas River, as envisioned by Fennell Purifoy architects.

The I-630, I-30 interchange.
  • The I-630, I-30 interchange.
Fennell Purifoy architects Tom Fennell, Ben Hartter and Baxter Reecer continue to whistle past the graveyard, drawing up yet another handsome new plan to show how  I-30 south of the Arkansas River could be replaced with with a boulevard. The plans are based on the Smart Mobility consulting firm study.  

In an email to the Times, Fennell wrote, "Our intentions all along were to seek out the best possible design for the I-30 corridor and we feel the plans attached represent the best outcome for the future of the city." But when it comes to spending our sales tax money, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is the final arbiter. If we don't like it, we can lump it, and will.

The deadline to comment on the widening, 30 Crossing, is June 10. In his own comment, sent June 6 to Metroplan and the AHTD, Fennell gives several reasons for opposing the the widening of I-30 to up to 15 lanes through downtown Little Rock: because the widening will not relieve congestion in the long term, because of induced demand; the $631 million cost of the project is not justified; that AHTD is planning for future expansions to result from this freeway expansion, "but coyly, acts as if they are unrelated"; and that the widening will not negatively impact downtown's economic growth and cause further harm to properties along the swath of concrete.
According to extensive studies by Smart Mobility, an independent traffic consultant engaged by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel to model and evaluate the consequences of the freeway expansion and alternatives, a boulevard with an additional arterial bridge west of Broadway addresses congestion most efficiently. In the boulevard plan, traffic is dispersed across the city via a traditional street grid. Managing traffic through downtown via the grid provides multiple paths and options for drivers at speeds safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. This is in contrast to an expanded freeway that concentrates traffic on one route and traps drivers in traffic with no options when any vehicle malfunction occurs.
Read Fennell's full letter here.
See the Fennell Purifoy plans here.


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