Highway Officials Ask To Make Case About I-30 Expansion To Little Rock Board

Oct 27, 2015

The proposed expansion of Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Credit AHTD

As concerns grow louder about a proposal to widen Interstate 30 between I-530 in Little Rock and I-40 in North Little Rock, the Little Rock Board of Directors is expected to vote soon on a resolution to oppose the plan.

A draft of the resolution says expanding the interstate from six to 10 lanes would damage the thriving downtown area, impede access to areas east of the interstate and further divide Little Rock with no positive benefits for its residents. The 6.7 mile stretch carries 125,000 vehicles through the downtowns of the two cities.

Meanwhile in a letter Tuesday, Scott Bennett, director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, asked City Manager Bruce Moore for the department to be allowed to make a presentation at the meeting.

There has been some confusion in the public dialogue about a number of the project's proposed elemnts. We wold like to present to your City Board of Directors at its next meeting, November 3, and answer any questions the Board may have about the project. It is important to the Department to continue the conversation with the public and stakehoders about the 30 Corssing project's facts.

The Heights Neighborhood Association became the latest entity to come out against the proposal Monday night after Arkansas Rep. Clarke Tucker spoke to the group. Last week, Rep. Warwick Sabin put out a statement and spoke with KUAR about why he believes it's a bad idea.

Department spokesman Danny Straessle said in an interview with KUAR Tuesday that highway officials are working to counter "a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings floating around about the project."

He also said the department has expanded a public comment period from 15 to 45 days, ending Sunday, Dec. 6. That comes after more than 400 people attended a public hearing to view plans and ask questions.

"We've received a lot of input from many, many stakeholders, motorists, residents and just users of the corridor and we want to make sure that we provide time for everyone who wants to provide a comment to be able to do so," Straessle said.

Highway officials have estimated the project will cost about $600 million, but an analysis by the regional transportation planning organization Metroplan expects it to cost more in the range of $750 million. The organization plans to discuss the matter at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4.