Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Business Owner Speaks Out on 30 Crossing

Carol Worley, a resident and business owner in downtown Little Rock, sent the comment below to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department regarding 30 Crossing. You too can submit comments using the form at this direct link. Meeting materials are here for a little background. Also, we encourage you to peruse back a few posts to see what others have said about the plans for AHTD to stick with outdated transportation options. And of course, see Max Brantley and Leslie Peacock's ongoing coverage over at the Arkansas Times. Carol's comments, reposted with permission:

I am unable to attend the meeting today on the proposed 30 Crossing project. However, I do want to pose my vehement objection to the proposed project. I am a resident of downtown Little Rock and have recently located my law firm downtown. While I understand the necessity of maintaining the structural integrity of the Arkansas River bridge, I am against the proposed plan to widen I-30 at the River and at the I-540/I-440 split. Much effort and expense has gone into revitalizing, redeveloping and unifying the River Market, the area around the Clinton Presidential Center, Main Street’s Creative Corridor, and the South Main area of Little Rock over the past 20 years. These areas have become pedestrian-friendly attractions that draw locals and tourists and are greatly contributing to the economic growth of our City. The current design for the I-30 expansion would decimate these areas, not to mention the adverse effect it will have on the surrounding historic neighborhoods that border the proposed expansion to the east and west. We have seen that with the increase in new business development and public transit is actually deepening connections across the current I-30 corridor. The Hangar Hill area is seeing new development and hopefully will continue this trend. The end effect of the proposed expansion will create a stark dividing line between downtown and the neighborhoods to the east similar to what I-630 did along the north/south axis when it was installed decades ago. Widening the freeway at the expense of a developing downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods is irresponsible and not well thought out. Clearly, the trend across the country is in the opposite direction, removing interstate highways from dense urban areas or locating them underground where street level activity and development is not adversely affected. Further, spending half a billing dollars to address several hours of rush hour traffic is overkill and not a wise use of tax payer’s money. Expanding roads does not eliminate backups during peak times, but instead it simply invites more vehicular use to fill those roads. Look at what traffic is like in California. Also, with the few exit ramps in the plan the effect will be not to encourage or assist movement into downtown, but to encourage movement through the area. Tourism and economic development will again decline in this event.
A better use of taxpayer funds will be to find alternative modes of transportation like commuter trains, trams or other mass transit designs or at a minimum a more innovative or creative plan to address the matter. Attention should be placed on current trends in urban growth and living including high-density, pedestrian-friendly urban areas with robust public transit that will help facilitate economic growth instead of thwart it. Further, efforts should be directed to anticipating the future, when multi-lane highways may well no longer be as desirable and mass public transportation is deemed the more feasible mode of travel. Little Rock is not just a city on a map that warrants a pass through. It’s a vibrant city that is seeing tremendous growth and development in the downtown area. That growth does not need to be hindered by this proposed project.
Carol Lockard Worley 
Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A.

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