The state highway department's heavy-handed tactics to speed its plan to widen the city-splitting concrete Interstate 30 gulch
through the heart of Little Rock is drawing some attention from the Little Rock City Board.
At a board agenda meeting Tuesday, there was mention of a potential future resolution objecting to the so-called Arkansas Department of Transportation's announcement from Director Scott Bennett
that it would not fund some federally aided projects
in Central Arkansas until Metroplan
changes some wording in its transportation plan to explicitly approve wider freeways. The resolution could be considered at the next City Board meeting.
Metroplan believes the wording change isn't required for release of federal highway money. Also, critics of the action contend a delay on
the change in wording is NOT delaying the so-called 30 Crossing project, which would pour almost a billion dollars worth of concrete downtown. An environmental assessment for the project is not completed and when it is released, it must be followed by a public comment period. What's more, there's a good chance that someone will challenge the sufficiency of the environmental assessment and seek a more detailed environmental impact statement. In short, a change of wording to clearly approve more lanes of freeway downtown isn't needed right now.
Can a majority of the City Board be mustered to express unhappiness with the effort by highway officials to hold highway projects hostage to fast-track the gulch? Sadly, some directors have made it clear that whatever the road building lobby wants (aka thechamber
of commerce), they are for, even if it contributes to ongoing city problems (neighborhood decay, suburban flight, cops that don't want to live in the city they serve, etc.)