Highway project concerns
Recently, I attended public meeting No. 5 at the Friendly Chapel Church of the Nazarene for the proposed 30 Crossing Project. From what I learned from the information provided and what I heard from questions to the representatives, I believe the presented design changes will wipe out over 20 years of progress from the city of Little Rock, concerned area citizens, the Downtown Partnership and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. I strongly object to the proposed project.
If all the designers of this proposed I-30 plan wish is to have a drive-through for long-haul truckers and nonstopping persons driving through the state, it may be OK. However, in my opinion, persons not wishing to stop and enjoy our beautiful city and people may simply take I-430 or I-440.
We have great east-west crossings for pedestrians/cyclists (and most, but not all, vehicular) downtown with I-30 at the River Trail, President Clinton Avenue, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th, I-630, 17th, 21st and Roosevelt. We do not need to lose any of these!
Without having to purchase new land and without moving or removing existing rail line for our trolley cars, rebuild the I-30 bridge with one new lane on each side and add another entrance/exit lane on each side connecting I-630 and add an entrance lane east and west at Roosevelt Avenue, at the Capitol Avenue (east) and McGowan Street (west) entrances to I-30. That's plenty!
However, I must add, I cannot comprehend how/why it would cost more or be worse than the proposed 30 Crossing Project to build a new bridge from South Chester in downtown Little Rock to North Little Rock connecting with Riverfront Drive and Pike Avenue carrying traffic to North Little Rock and I-40 West. This would cut considerable traffic from the downtown entrances and exits of I-30 and I-630 and aid in building the downtown areas of both North Little Rock and Little Rock.
I observe the traffic on I-30 and I-630 often, at various times, rush hour and not. Peak times are crowded. Most of the time, 90 percent of the time, it is not crowded. Perhaps it would be more efficient for Little Rock businesses to stagger work hours — permitting flex time would do the same — than to spend close to a billion dollars to remedy or reduce bottlenecks.
Kinship placements work
Thank you and the donors who supported your investigative journalist, Kathryn Joyce, to look at some of the concerns within our DCFS foster care system. As a follow-up, I received many calls from grandparents and relatives, all trying to provide placements for their children of family members and being unsuccessful. I will never understand why the system is so cavalier about the removal of young children from a consistent placement.
I received a few negative comments from people in the hierarchy of DCFS, who complained about relative placements or had heard from DCFS insiders about the awfulness of relative placements. However, no one ever mentioned the terrible stories we read about with foster care placements with non-relatives that have gone badly. The research does not indicate a disproportionate number of cases of abuse or neglect in relative placements.
I work with relative caregivers everyday, most of whom are not in the foster care system, avoiding the system whenever possible, and rarely have I encountered abuse or neglect. If you read the testimonies in the legislative interim study, you would hear the relative caregivers not in the system discuss their economic hardships, but also their feelings that they have done a good thing by keeping the children connected to their families. I have seen their sacrifices and their joy.
Dee Ann Newell
Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind