Wednesday, October 21, 2015
I've been playing around with some transit ideas for central Arkansas in my head for a while. Given the rush job that AHTD seems to be putting on its 30 Crossing Project, I decided to commit my fuzzy thoughts to actual real life bits in the cloud. Consider this the beginning of a rough draft, but a lot of it is based on stuff people have been saying we need for years. Chime in here. Comment on Facebook. Download Google Earth, play around with your own ideas, and let's all talk. I hope to spend some time in the near future fleshing this out more completely. In the short term, we need to tell AHTD to tap the brakes on its $500-$750 million - $4 billion plans to waste money on old-fashioned business as usual!
All pictures can be clicked to embiggen. Without further ado...
Here's the view of today's urban interstates. Two-digit routes are in blue; three-digits are in that lovely red/brown color I came up with.
Step 1: Rename Interstate 440 as Interstate 30. De-designate or de-list the segment of 30 that used to run through downtowns LR and NLR along with the eastern 2/3 of 630. Think of these for now as boulevards, surface streets, parkways, whatever.
A closer view of the core of the cities with the existing interstates and the River Rail streetcar line shown:
Ok, now we're getting into the meaty part. Step 2 after de-listing the downtown urban interstates is to build the long-awaited light rail in the freed up rights of way. The green blobs are areas where transit-oriented development could work. Think parking areas first designed and built with the idea of eventually becoming more complete neighborhoods. The red line starts at I40 in NLR; the blue line starts south of Roosevelt in LR; they converge beside MacArthur Park and head west in the old 630 corridor, all the way to University Ave.
Step 3: expand the streetcar network. The lime green route is drawn here on 2nd Street and then south on Main. The yellow-ish line goes down Capitol Ave. to Victory.
Then, more expansion of light rail. The Blue line turns north toward Mid-Town; Red line turns south to UALR and the University District; Orange line gets built as a partnership with the LR & W railroad in Riverdale:
And, more incremental expansion. Orange line goes to the marina development currently in progress, Dassault/Falcon, and the airport. Streetcars extend deeper into the neighborhoods.
And so on.
Obviously, this is not a complete plan, and there are tons of issues with what I've drawn. Again, treat it as a jumping off point. AHTD said they didn't consider light rail or other transit simply because Rock Region Metro didn't include any in its long-term plan. As many have pointed out though, if Rock Region Metro knew it had hundreds of millions of dollars to spend like AHTD is proposing for highways, light rail would probably end up on the plan post haste.
One more interesting tidbit...
25: the number of traffic lanes connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan today.
26: the number of traffic lanes connecting Little Rock to North Little Rock today.