His post below served as a reminder of the public involvement meeting today, but his views from his perspective as a tourism entrepreneur speak volumes. Words and photo reposted with permission...
|'Life' under an off ramp|
Please consider stopping by today, 4-7pm at 116 S. Pine Street in North Little Rock to discuss alternatives to the I-30 widening through downtown. Please consider reading my thoughts from a tourism perspective.
Tourism is the second largest industry in Arkansas behind agriculture. And while most everyone realizes just how important agriculture is to our livelihood on a daily basis, people many times do not stop to think about how important tourism is to a community. It's not all about taking trips, spending money, and enjoying life. Being a second generation tour operator, i've gained a lot of perspective as to how important tourism is to attracting industry, attracting jobs, and attracting people to move to your City. Because without a healthy tourism infrastructure, your City will have a hard time growing. And without growth, you have less tax dollars for education, less property values, and young people with fresh ideas leaving for other Cities.
So many people have worked so hard in downtown Little Rock/NLR over the past 15 years to help build an attractive City core that is safe to live, offers walkable/bikeable amenities, and will attract people and jobs to our City.
I am extremely concerned by the plans in place at the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to change I-30 from six lanes to ten lanes through the middle of downtown Little Rock. This at a time when the AHTD is admittedly quickly running out of money and has trouble keeping up with the infrastructure maintanance we already have in place. Plus, engineers have said that this addition will cause a ripple effect which will eventually cost our community 4 billion to fix. Can we really mortgage off our children's future? Not to mention that most progressive and growing Cities are trying to find ways eliminate interstates from their downtown's completely.
What started out as a project just to replace a failing I-30 bridge has turned into additional lanes to solve a problem that only exists during 1 hour of any day (Rush hour b/w 5-6pm). By speeding traffic through downtown, Little Rock will become less desirable of a City to visit. The faster traffic moves, the less likely visitors are to stop has been proven over and over. Did I mention tourism is the State's second largest economy? And the huge divide it will cause right through the heart of the River Market, tearing up much of Clinton Predidential Park and seperating a growing East Little Rock (Heiffer, Rocktown Distillery, future Estem school, Lost 40 brewing, and our biggest tourism draw - the Clinton Library).
Please folks, consider coming out tonight and discussing alternatives. I don't care if you live in NLR, SWLR, or WLR, we all share our downtown. And downtown is the lifeblood of any great, growing city. This is our opportunity to start discussing new ideas, fresh thought to fix a broken system. We can attract jobs and people to our City. We already have so many great things in place. Hope you'll consider.