Think of the future
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department sponsored its sixth informational meeting about expansion of I-30 last week. After short speeches by representatives of contracting firms (Garver Engineering, StudioMAIN, and Nelson\Nygaard), we were invited across the hall to see maps, charts and video simulations. All were very impressive to the eye. Each member of the audience was given a full-color handout and the opportunity to fill out a "Citizen Comment Form."
The only options under consideration were no construction, 6 lanes ("collector/distributor lanes and single point urban interchange"), 6 lanes ("collector/distributor lanes and split diamond interchange"), 8 lanes ("general purpose lanes and single point urban interchange"), and 8 lanes ("general purpose lanes and split diamond interchange"). The scenarios were imaginary and presumed that traffic will increase in a foreseeable way. It was taken for granted that these changes must happen.
But nothing in any of the material presented so much as mentioned a light-rail system or how the atmospheric effects of increased traffic will be absorbed. Furthermore, nothing was said about that 900-pound gorilla in the room: economic development of downtown Little Rock and beyond.
It was as if the problems of carbon emission and climate change do not exist.
Funding for the 30 Crossing project is to be from a hodgepodge of revenue streams. Interestingly, what was completely absent was any presentation of how much each contracting firm stands to profit. A general figure of $631.7 million was thrown out, though. Of course, in the budgetary agenda of our times, numbers like this will always rise. But one thing that will remain constant is that the people of Arkansas will have to bear the cost, directly or indirectly.
Furthermore, more lanes will bring more pollution, more congestion and more dangerous driving conditions. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. While six lanes or eight lanes might be better than 10 lanes, it's still an increase in the number of lanes! No amount of rhetoric about "split diamonds" and "green spaces" will make that fact go away.
What is the point of having bicycle paths in an empty city? Assuming that we want the space we live in to be more than a highway interchange.
The 30 Crossing plan is either designed to accommodate interstate commerce or to meet some perception of "convenience." But we must remember that this is not a matter of convenience for commuters. More lanes lead to more congestion, more pollution, more complaints about convenience, and more frustration, to say nothing of other "retail" effects. Instead, we should be looking for true convenience and true community. That comes with a transportation infrastructure that accounts for the health of all people in greater Little Rock and the surrounding environment.
Except for a few vested interests that stand to profit, how can the present 30 Crossing scheme benefit a struggling city like our own?
North Little Rock
Not buying story on Kurrus firing
I am a retired educator who worked in four public school districts, including for 25 years in the Little Rock School District as a coach, classroom teacher, principal and director of secondary education. My four children received an excellent education in the LRSD. I join the long list of knowledgeable people expressing their displeasure with the underhanded, ill-timed firing of LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus. Former state Sen. Jim Argue, former LRSD school board member Nancy Wood, Max Brantley and others hit the nail on the head when they said that Kurrus' firing was caused by his truthful testimony about the harmful impact charter schools have on public education in Little Rock. Gov. Hutchinson and Education Commissioner Johnny Key's excuse that they wanted a professional educator shows what hypocrites they are. The governor had to get the legislature to pass special legislation to give Key, who lacked an education background, the job. We must save our public schools.
From the web
In response to Max Brantley's April 27 column, "Low tactics every day: Walmart education":
Had the governor and the Education Commissioner been paying attention to LRSD for decades, as I have, they would know that the highly respected Baker Kurrus did NOT go rogue. He has always been a man swaddling in facts, not feely-feely talk. He has opposed charter schools that he thought were harming LRSD since he was a school board member. I think he embarrassed them with their own statistics because he thinks charters should also be accountable to the state. (What a concept!)
In response to Bill Kopsky's April 27 guest column, "Rigged system":
"Rigging a system as Key has done corrodes the credibility of the whole institution of public education."
That's their goal, unfortunately. So, this column only shows them how well they are doing. Although many may be outraged at these poor decisions, those in charge are quite happy with them and see no problems. I suspect this plan has been in the works for years and years, and they are more than prepared to succeed, as Republicans control the state and Democrats in Arkansas are incapable of rising to the occasion.
I'll add yet another layer: Not only are Republicans attempting to destroy public education in Little Rock, thereby damaging it economically and socially, they are also behind the coming of the new 10-lane bridge and roadway that will decimate the River Market District and the new revitalization of downtown and downtown neighborhoods.
Republicans are specifically attacking Little Rock for some unknown reason, and the damage they are doing is incalculable.
In response to Gene Lyons' April 27 column, "Get real," commenting on Atlantic magazine contributor Neal Gabler, who wrote about being broke at age 66, and the "American Dream":
Gabler is probably an extreme example, but his blunders are emblematic of Americans' general sense of entitlement. Gabler's American dream is, simply put, the American nightmare. Living above your means, buying more than you can afford to pay for, is not "the dream," it's a personality disorder, not unlike gambling, and it'll put you in a hole so fast you won't know how deep it is till you hit the bottom. Then you look around for a shovel to dig your way out. Stop digging!