30 Crossing Would Widen I-30 and Remove a Streetcar Line in Little Rock

Advocates at the local and the national level are voicing their concern over a proposal by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department to widen the I-30 freeway in Downtown Little Rock.
November 3, 2015, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Angie Schmitt checks in on the recently completed environmental study for the 30 Crossing project in Little Rock. According to Schmitt, the proposal for the project would spend $600 million to widen a partly elevated highway through the center of Little Rock from six lanes to ten lanes.

According to Schmitt, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department "just completed a year-long environmental study for the project they call 30 Crossing. The agency’s 'preferred alternative' is the 10-lane highway widening, which it believes is the best way to 'relieve congestion, improve roadway safety' and address structural deficiencies in the road."

An article in the Democrat-Gazette, now mostly hidden behind the publication's paywall for archived articles, focuses on the consequences of the I-30 proposal—namely, that an existing route on the downtown streetcar system would be scrapped. Schmitt provides more detail on that particular consequence of the highway-widening plan:

"Multiple options were studied, and the state ended up favoring the version with the most highway widening. The road can’t be widened to 10 lanes without removing a portion of Little Rock’s streetcar, meaning the line would no longer serve two of its most popular destinations: the Clinton Presidential Library and the headquarters of the global charity Heifer International. Tearing up the streetcar would also foreclose the long-discussed possibility of extending the streetcar to the airport..."

Schmitt also surveys the local response to the study, including a post by Tim McKuin on the blog MoveArkansas, which quibbles with slippage in the numbers used to back up the argument in favor of the 30 Crossing proposal. An op-ed by Max Brantley for the Arkansas Times resorts to all caps in calling for the Arkansas DOT to "STOP This Outrageous Project." Leslie Newell Peacock reported for the same publication in a separate article about the growing public opposition to the project proposal

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Published on Monday, October 26, 2015 in Streetsblog USA
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