Dear Mahatma: There may be more important problems with the roadways, but who decides on lighting our byways? A few of us traveled to Mesa, Arizona, last year and their interstate system is like driving in daylight at night. There are so many areas here like the Interstate 40 and Interstate 30 interchange that are almost pitch black at night. -- Night Owl
Dear Night: Lights on state and interstate highways are put up by the Arkansas Department of Transportation, after which the responsibility for their upkeep devolves to municipalities. So the thing to do is to contact public works departments, or mayor's offices, of the city involved.
Darkness at the I-40/I-30 interchange in North Little Rock has been addressed repeatedly in the nearly 15 years (!) of this traffic column. At night, especially in the rain, driving through is like crossing the River Styx.
There are light poles here, but we have been told, over and over, two things. First, that thieves strip the wiring. Second, that the lights will be restored when the 30 Crossing project improves Interstate 30 from there to its confluence with Interstate 530. After which, we'll all be drinking that free bubble-ubb, and eating that rainbow stew.
We checked with the office of Joe Smith, mayor of North Little Rock. Is he committed to re-lighting this interchange? "When the Highway Department does the interchange, they will install the lights. And it's our responsibility to keep the lights burning."
Is he also committed to retiring this year? "Yes."
We asked the second question to nudge readers in North Little Rock to ask mayoral candidates to commit, promise and swear to maintain the new lights.
Um, 30 Crossing?
A very brief update from the Transportation Department: Planning continues. Litigation on hold. Construction to begin late summer early fall of this year. First phase, which includes a new bridge over the Arkansas River, to be completed in 2025, by which time The Mahatma will have one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel.
Hello: I have heard it is not uncommon for vehicles that use a hitch-style bike rack to be pulled over because their license plate is obstructed, but less common to actually get a ticket. Is this more bark than bite? -- Chad
Dear Chad: Arkansas Code Annotated 27-14-716, "Display of license plates generally," says every license plate shall, at all times, be securely fastened horizontally, not less than 12 inches from the ground measuring from the bottom of the plate, and in a place and position to be clearly visible. It shall be free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly visible.
It's a leap to generalize about law enforcement practices such as being pulled over for a bike rack, ticket or no. Because Arkansas has more than 500 police agencies -- municipal, county and state. Every officer is different, and exercises discretion differently.
Vanity plate: SMRTTLK.
Metro on 02/15/2020