LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The controversial “30 Crossing” project aims to widen up to seven miles of Interstate 30 from U.S. Highway 67 in North Little Rock to Interstate 530 in Little Rock. That’s why Metroplan’s board, made up of city and county officials from five Central Arkansas counties, held a public hearing session at the Pulaksi Technical College Wednesday night.
The board has the authority to consider capacity improvements that would include major widening on I-30. The board said they won't make a final decision on the project until they have heard from the public.
Tab Townsell, Executive Director of Metroplan, said that the open comment session was an opportunity to let the citizens speak to the people who will make this decision. He thinks it’s a much needed process considering the division within the public.
For example, Little Rock architect, Tom Fennell, has been a vocal opponent of widening I-30. He said widening is a waste of time because it isn’t going to help with congestion.
“We’re gonna have just as much congestion when we get through as when we started,” said Fennell.
He said major cities have tried and failed with similar projects.
“We’re gonna spend millions of dollars trying to chase down congestion and we can’t do it,” he said. ”Just ask the mayor of Houston, the mayor of Dallas, and any of the major cities that have gone down that road of expanding freeways because they have paid a huge cost for nothing.”
He's hoping people will look at what this could mean for Little Rock’s future and let the board know this isn't the best choice.
“Cities that are widening freeways or adding freeways are not going to be attractive to the next generation,” said Fennell.
But not everyone thinks this move is a bad one.
The Little Rock Regional Chamber claimed some businesses in the city see it as an opportunity to bring in more people downtown. Jeff Hathaway, a former Chairman of the Little Rock Regional Chamber, said allowing a widening could mean improved mobility.
He thinks there should be more lanes so that people can not only go through the city, but get to and from the city in an efficient way. Hathaway also said people need to focus on the opportunity moving forward because he believes city stakeholders will work to find the best plan that doesn't turn Little Rock into a concrete jungle.
“It's a controversial subject but I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there and I really think it's the right thing for the community to have this project,” he said.
For more information about the “30 Crossing” plan visit here: http://metroplan.org/content/public-comment