“If you build more lanes on the expressway, more cars and trucks will use it. If you’re lucky, congestion remains as bad as it was before you spent $50 million trying to relieve it; if you’re not, it gets worse. It’s like the Red Queen from the other side of the looking glass, who tells Alice, “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Thank you for reading and considering the following comments. I appreciate the modifications you have made to the proposed project since it was first shown to the public, and urge you to consider additional alternatives rather than those presented at the April 26 meeting.
Like many citizens, I have attended a number of meetings, read numerous articles and reports, and visited with citizens who hold a wide range of perspectives. However, the more research I have done and the more I listen to experts, the more I am convinced the April 26 proposals are wrong for us. Hundreds of citizens have contacted me concerning the 30 Crossing Project, most opposed to the current options. Four neighborhood associations in Ward 3 passed resolutions opposing the project; Capitol View/Stifft Station, the Heights, Hillcrest, and Kingwood.
The needs of Downtown Little Rock are not sufficiently addressed as the project stands. As the group of consultants hired by the City state, the needs of downtown Little Rock are not sufficiently addressed in the proposal. The area studied by the AHTD should be expanded to include a larger geographic area of downtown, as well as the economic impact of the proposal. Knowing the traffic and congestion impacts are a “must.” Currently, the AHTD says one of five purposes of the project is to improve mobility on I-30 and I-40. That means, mobility anywhere else is the city's problem, leaving the city to deal with the impact. Paul Moore and Scott Polikov, part of the Nelson/Nygaard group of consultants hired by the city, stressed to the City Board that we should “push back” against the AHTD on the number of lanes, because of the potential impact on the city.
It is also critical that the Highway Department consider induced demand and factor that into the equation. Norm Marshall from Smart Mobility, hired by a group of concerned citizens (of which I was part), would be an excellent good resource for that. Samuel I Schwartz, in his book STREET SMART, says that “If you build more lanes on the expressway, more cars and trucks will use it. If you’re lucky, congestion remains as bad as it was before you spent $50 million trying to relieve it; if you’re not, it gets worse. It’s like the Red Queen from the other side of the looking glass, who tells Alice, “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" (page 45 STREET SMART)
Given the proposed scope of this project, I believe it will, with near certainty, require a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) not merely an EA. While I didn't live here in 1991, I know there was a federal lawsuit against the city on the issue of EIS and EA, as it pertained to Jimerson Creek and the widening of Rebsamen Park Road. The judge ruled against the city and the Army Corps of Engineers; the lower court was upheld when the city and Corps appealed to the 8th Circuit in St. Louis (note: this case is used in law schools around the country as a case study on when an EIS is required). The proposed 30 Crossing is a significantly larger project, with a significantly larger impact.
Citizens have donated 100’s of hours, attending meetings, coming up with ideas, all for no compensation. I applaud all of these individuals and groups, from Tom Fennell and Fennell Purifoy Architects, to the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods, StudioMain and others.
I hope that we will pursue alternatives to the current proposals. As the AHTD has met with citizens and listened to input, the current plan has evolved from what was presented last year. Optional plans, presented by citizens, have evolved as well. I hope the latest iteration of the Boulevard Plan is considered by the AHTD, along with bridge improvements or replacement and other safety enhancements. As Sam Schwartz points out, in order for a community to “be alive-its streets have to welcome the widest variety of people.” (page 215) Let’s improve I-30 and our city.
City Director Ward 3