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