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State officials say no to I-30 as boulevard

Agency’s online page cites worries about safety, traffic

By Noel Oman

This article was originally published February 22, 2016 at 7:00 a.m. Updated February 22, 2016 at 7:00 a.m.

Map showing the location of the Interstate 30 corridor project.

Transforming the Interstate 30 corridor through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock into a tree-lined boulevard has "aesthetic benefits" but would worsen "safety and mobility" within the corridor, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said.

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RBear says... February 22, 2016 at 6:05 a.m.

I agree that the boulevard idea is not a feasible approach as an alternative to 30 Crossing. There are so many transportation infrastructure components missing from Little Rock and Central Arkansas needed to support such an approach. It looks neat and someday might be feasible. But Pulaski County must prove it is serious about public transit, especially with a win in the upcoming Rock Region Metro funding vote, before such a venture can be considered. Just like some of the opposition see AHTD's solutions as lacking holistic vision, so are the approaches provided by the opposition. There is not a cohesive message of complete transportation solutions by that group. Pull it together and you might sell me on your approach.

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drs01 says... February 22, 2016 at 8:14 a.m.

I hope the AHTD will follow the money before reaching a decision on the I-30 corridor.
If they do, they will see that those who are hell-bent to re-create downtown Little Rock are the most vocal. The developers, whatabe developers, Downtown Partnership, Chamber, Convention Bureau and even the city board and Mayor.
This project IS AN INTERSTATE HIGHWAY, not a local potholed city street. Unfortunately, it is filled intrastate commuters who retreat to the suburbs after working in the city. They deserve a voice, even greater than those who feel only they have the "vision for Little Rock" If these so-called visionaries would work on solutions to keep jobs and the people who fill them in the Metroplex, then we'd have some real progress. But we don't. So, let the AHTD do their job...do what is best for ALL our citizens.

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RBBrittain says... February 22, 2016 at 9:16 a.m.

I agree with RBear. It would be nice to have more non-auto options (I've already voted absentee for the Rock Region Metro tax), but you can't use that as an excuse to block current auto traffic needs. Nothing short of a freeway will work in the 30 Crossing area, and even if other options become popular it will take *more* than five years to undo over five DECADES of traffic patterns that focus STATEWIDE traffic to & from LR/NLR on 30 Crossing. And yes, as a statewide agency AHTD must consider the needs of Cabot, Conway & Bryant commuters to & from downtown just as much as (if not even more than) those living downtown.

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JGP says... February 22, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.

The Boulevard idea was a very utopian and relatively silly idea from the beginning. I would personally like to see a flyover to La Harpe that was once considered rather than a complete remaking of the interchanges. I also would like to see them more seriously consider a double deck freeway like Austin has on I-35 in the downtown area where traffic that is passing through can stay on the upper deck and "local" traffic can pass through on the lower deck. I know that too was a consideration at some point.

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Smoky12 says... February 22, 2016 at 9:31 a.m.

isn't it about time we started to think about mass transit for commuters, (I. e. trains, subways)? If our downtown has become so congested then maybe the money spent on improving roadways would be better spent on something that would decrease the number of autos on the highway for commuters?

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mhck52 says... February 22, 2016 at 9:40 a.m.

Am I the only one who noticed they didn't address converting 440 to I-30 for through traffic only. All they said was it makes getting to downtown harder. Duh! Either someone is missing the point or they think we're stupid.

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RBBrittain says... February 22, 2016 at 10:06 a.m.

Metroplan and 30 Crossing opponents don't realize that current freeway construction standards call for BOTH extra ramp lanes AND extended merge zones in freeway-to-freeway interchanges to handle high volumes of traffic using ramps to move between freeways AND merge with traffic already on the freeway. For example, the merge from 440 onto 67 North towards Jacksonville already extends north all the way to Redmond Road, and will only be expanded as the 6-lane 67 is extended into Jacksonville. Also, the current abrupt merges on 630 East leaving Big Rock are temporary; the main reason for widening 630 between Big Rock & University is to give eastbound traffic plenty of room to merge into the three eastbound lanes continuing downtown, as well as for westbound traffic to get into the proper lanes to prepare for Big Rock (the current temporary westbound pattern favors 430 South at the expense of 430 North & Chenal).

Much of the seemingly excess capacity of 30 Crossing is dictated by two factors: (a) Many freeways feeding to it have already been widened to beyond 30 Crossing's own capacity, especially 67 whose 6 lanes at McCain is currently reduced to 4 at the 40 split and then further limited by the weave zone on 40 between 30 & 67; with 30 Crossing those 6 lanes will continue unimpeded to downtown. (b) 30 Crossing's close spacing between major interchanges -- especially freeway-to-freeway (67, North Terminal, 630, South Terminal), but also including Broadway in NLR and whatever replaces Cantrell-Clinton -- means there's barely enough room to do proper lane shifts between interchanges, even after widening. That's why 30 Crossing needs 10 lanes; even 8 lanes will be tricky there, but it will NOT compel widening of other freeways beyond what's already being planned (630 from Louisiana to 30, 30 from South Terminal to 65th).

I agree, however, that the absolute trickiest issue is how to accommodate LaHarpe/Cantrell traffic to & from 30 without choking the River Market & other nearby development. I've submitted my own idea to AHTD, but even that won't be easy.

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2531USMC says... February 22, 2016 at 10:07 a.m.

I am believer in public transportation, it fills a vital roll in providing transportation for those who cannot drive themselves, regardless of the reason. But as to the rest of the people driving in the greater Little Rock area, they have shown that they aren't willing to give up their cars for now, or for that matter in the foreseeable future. Some of our visionaries would like to see the people use public transport just as big cites do. Or they have a more Utopian view of people bicycling to work and play. Problem is no one here really wants to go that route because they don't live in the downtown area, they either live on the west side of town, or commute into the downtown area from surrounding cities. Thinking that any of this will change in the next 10 years or so is doubtful. I have over 30 years experience driving in the greater Little Rock area as a service technician. And I can say first hand that every modernization improvement I have seen from the widening of I-30 from 2 to 3 lanes beginning in the late 70's, all the way to the Big Rock exchange, is that all of them are reacting to problems instead of heading them off. Always plan on needing a little bit more and plan a little further into the future. And keep it real, dreaming is one thing reality another.

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RBBrittain says... February 22, 2016 at 10:29 a.m.

@mhck52: First, the boulevard plan would have made the downtown commute from most NLR and much of Sherwood MUCH harder; 440 is NOT a reasonable alternative for those people. Second, 440 isn't reasonable for shoppers from LR headed to McCain Mall. Finally, most of the people for whom 440 *is* reasonable -- Dallas-Memphis truckers and 67 commuters from Jacksonville & beyond -- already use it, and those commuters have to share 30 Crossing south of downtown with SWLR, Benton & Pine Bluff commuters. 440 is *NOT* the panacea 30 Crossing opponents portray it to be; they're only looking at one group that already uses it.

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mrcharles says... February 22, 2016 at 1:16 p.m.

drs01, good thoughts. I would add like all big cities though, those who like to work in the cities that has to provide the infrastructure for them and then to retreat to their cubby holes who want just convenience for them are a little hypocritical. Yet you are so right on point about those "elites" who like to use the public $$$ to enhance their $$$$$ all the while claiming spend to help me but of course for the public good too.

I always find reason, reasonable.

And Po wants a subway so he can write on the walls.

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