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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Seat belt campaign ramps up

May 25, 2019 at 4:30 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: Saw this on a billboard on Interstate 630. We only need to worry about tickets May 20-June 2. -- Famous Counselor

Dear Famous: Thank you for sending logos of the Click it or Ticket campaign. As we understand the campaign, patrol officers across the state will hammer the seat belt law, which requires all front-seat passengers to buckle up. All kids younger than 15 must also be properly secured. All kids younger than 6 and who weigh less than 50 pounds must be in a child passenger safety seat.

If a driver has a restricted license -- hello, teenagers -- everyone has to be buckled up.

For those who forgot, failure to follow the seat-belt law is now a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can ticket for failure to follow the law, rather than tacking the offense onto another.

Dear Mahatma: I commute from North Little Rock to west Little Rock. My preferred route is Interstate 40 to Interstate 430 to Cantrell Road and back home in reverse. Almost every day, traffic merging onto I-430 from I-40 backs up. Same in the afternoon when trying to exit I-430 and merge onto I-40. Any discussion about improving the transition between the interstates? -- Mark

Dear Mark: We travel this way ourselves every Tuesday afternoon to drink coffee with a bunch of old newspapermen. Coming back to North Little Rock, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., our flabber is routinely gasted by the traffic backup, and we know it gets worse as the afternoon turns into evening rush hour.

Mark Headley, chief engineer for District 6 of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, was asked to comment.

There is no project for this interchange in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan that runs through 2022, Headley said, but Metroplan, which makes transportation planning for central Arkansas, has improvements in its long-range plan that extends to 2050. No funding currently exists for such a thing.

On the other hand, Headley said, improvements to the Interstate 30 corridor through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock will relieve some of the congestion at I-40 and I-430 by providing an improved option to cross the Arkansas River.

This is 30 Crossing, dear readers, the mother of all highway projects in Arkansas.

May we say two things?

First, we will personally be 99 years old in 2050. Or probably not.

Second, we see in the newspaper another lawsuit aimed at 30 Crossing. Will litigation stop 30 Crossing? Our sense of it, or nonsense of it, is that the project has an inexorable momentum.

But we also know that the vagaries of the law can be summed up in two words: You never know.

Dear Mahatma: I'll bet Marianna is proud to have U.S. 1 passing through town. -- Skip

Dear Skip: We should have written Arkansas 1 last week.

Our flogging has been scheduled for Wednesday. Tickets now on sale.

Metro on 05/25/2019

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