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The true purpose of the I-30 Crossing Project (30 Crossing) is to more safely connect central Arkansas and the people of Little Rock to each other while linking our city to the larger regional economy, improving public spaces, and bettering quality of life for our citizens.

Unlike so many other growing cities in the South, Little Rock has not experienced much progress over the last decade. Our infrastructure plays a large role in the growth of our city. In order to build a better Little Rock where families and businesses can thrive, we must recognize that access is the lifeblood of any city and any local economy.

We must ask ourselves if we have the audacity to build the proper infrastructure to join our communities to our region and grow Little Rock into the thriving Southern city our people deserve. We must ask ourselves: How can we cast an infrastructure improvement and mobility vision founded on a comprehensive urban plan for our entire city? And most importantly, how do we intentionally connect to our region in ways that foster new economic growth?

The 30 Crossing Project is an important piece of what central Arkansas can be with the right investment and vision. I believe in a city that connects all our communities, all our neighborhoods, and all our people. I envision a Little Rock where all people can get where they are going in a timely and safe manner while the urban fabric and green spaces are created and preserved.

I am confident that 30 Crossing won't displace other investments in Little Rock's downtown and green space, and the city should continue to take steps to increase density, encourage walkability and bike use, and expand the Rock Region Metro. I don't see these objectives as working at odds with 30 Crossing. I see 30 Crossing as a quality-of-life enhancement for Little Rock residents that goes hand in hand with other planning and transportation objectives.

The 30 Crossing Project is a strong example of what smart regional investment should look like for a city like ours. It will help link our communities and relieve traffic burdens. Almost 125,000 cars and trucks cross the I-30 bridge on a daily basis, and we cannot confidently say it is structurally safe, as evidenced by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation determining factors. The 30 Crossing Project fixes that. It also has the potential to reduce traffic on I-630 and I-430, and to chart a new path to prosperity for Little Rock by creating new jobs and generating robust economic impact.

With much of the country's purchasing power in close proximity, the future growth of Little Rock will be powered in part by the success of the 30 Crossing. At a time when Little Rock is experiencing stagnant job growth, we can't afford to put the brakes on a potentially transformative infrastructure investment like 30 Crossing coupled with comprehensive urban planning.

Of critical importance to our city, the 30 Crossing Project will not displace any residents from their homes. As a former at-large member of the Arkansas Highway Commission, this was a major priority for me. As a lifelong resident of Little Rock who was born, raised and still lives south of I-630, I've seen what displacement, redlining, and the demolition of corridors such as the once booming Ninth Street Financial Center can do to a community. Unlike I-630, 30 Crossing will not divide our communities, and I will fight any efforts that would do so with this project or any other infrastructure project. I will work to install the minimum number of lanes required and limit the divide between east and west.

The plan for 30 Crossing draws strength from input of people across our city. As a highway commissioner, I dedicated myself to ensuring that the 30 Crossing Project accounted for the ideas and the concerns of all Little Rock residents. We conducted more than 200 public meetings where residents from across Little Rock were able to provide input. As a result, more than 1,250 citizens attended and posed thousands of questions and comments.

Because of Little Rock residents' engagement and input, more than a dozen significant improvements were made to the project plan, which will also remove the circular on/off ramps and create a park to be maintained by the state. Our next mayor must make this a beautiful public-private partnership park like those found in Atlanta, Austin and Dallas.

The 30 Crossing Project will empower our citizens to travel Little Rock more efficiently, faster, and safer. I encourage residents across Little Rock to continue the dialogue and provide thoughtful feedback on improvements to 30 Crossing, because the path to building a better Little Rock and improving quality of life for our families starts with smart infrastructure investments, comprehensive urban planning and a vision for our city.

It's time for new and bold leadership, understanding all of Little Rock, and providing a forward-thinking vision to positively impact our city and regional economy with all options on the table.

Former state highway commissioner Frank Scott Jr. is exploring a run for Little Rock mayor this year.

Editorial on 03/04/2018

Print Headline: Connecting our communities

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