Monday, October 26, 2015

A Capital City as an After Thought?

Taylor Hubbard, property owner in Little Rock's Central High neighborhood, shared the letter below that she sent to the 30 Crossing Project comment gatekeepers. She brings up a lot of great points, including a bit on the history of I-630 and the currently growing ability for people to bike and walk in downtown instead of driving. AHTD's models place an inordinate amount of value on seconds saved for people commuting long distances in cars while completely ignoring the value of the car trip not taken. Even if you never touch a bike and prefer to drive from one side of the mall to the other instead of walking through, when others ride bikes, walk to the store, etc., good things happen for everyone. I know that people get PhD's focused on making highway department traffic models model car traffic better, but until those models also adequately account for people walking, biking, taking the bus, carpooling, telecommuting, etc., they are irrelevant in evaluating one transportation mix over another. 

Hubbard's full comment posted with her permission:
My husband and I intentionally moved to downtown Little Rock one year ago to be in close proximity to where we spend the majority of our time - work, church, schools, etc. We purchased our house on the south side of 630, my husband regularly commutes to his job at FUMC downtown on his bicycle, and when our daughter was in daycare, he would bike her along as well. We value the ability to use alternative modes of transportation and have often talked about becoming a one-car family. 
Not long after our move downtown, we became very aware of many issues caused by I-630 in our community. One of the most striking issues is the division 630 created downtown and the "reputations" of the north and south sides. We love our community, we love the people in our community, and even embrace the unique challenges that come with living downtown; however, seeing first-hand the implications that occurred from putting a highway through an entire neighborhood and the subsequent division it created makes me even more passionate about speaking out against the current 30 Crossing proposal. 
This plan is focused on moving as many people through Little Rock as fast as possible, with no regard to the (1) people who live here, (2) vision for the area, and (3) what has already been implemented to revitalize downtown. There is no reason to send a major interstate through the middle of downtown; this is nothing more than a short-sighted, expensive bandaid.  
Implementing the proposal as-is will be a huge detriment to the businesses that comprise downtown. The area will become less desirable and not only will it be difficult to attract new businesses, we risk losing existing staples in the downtown skyline. It will make downtown less accessible and therefore easier to skip over. A capital city as an after thought; can you imagine? More than anything, this will jeopardize expansion for forward-thinking, PEOPLE friendly businesses and lifestyles because it sends a clear message that cars, not people, are more valuable in Arkansas. I implore the AHTD to rethink this proposal.  
I was supportive of the initial release of information focusing on expanding I30 over the river, but I feel extremely caught off guard by the current proposal and how invasive it is to this area. This proposal is not the answer; this proposal is a costly solution for those commuting outside the city at the expense of those of us living downtown. I'm confident that the 4 billion dollars estimated for completion of this project could be invested in alternative, more sustainable solutions that do more than send a concrete corridor through the heart of downtown. Please, please, please, consider alternatives and listen to the voices of those this affects most. 
Respectfully,
Taylor Bradley Hubbard
Homeowner, Central High Historic District

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with the sentiment that the State Highway department is choosing to push the good of commuters over the residents of Little Rock. I wrote up an alternate proposal. Take a look if you have time:
    http://theexaminedrepublican.blogspot.com/2015/10/an-alternate-proposal-for-i-30-to-i-630.html

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