Saturday, January 13, 2018
Dear Mahatma: Has anyone considered changing Interstate 440 into Interstate 30 east of North Little Rock? It's already three lanes and would be easy to widen. Then the current congested I-30 through downtown Little Rock could be I-30B. -- Judy
Dear Judy: This matter has indeed been considered. Danny Straessle of the Arkansas Department of Transportation points us in the direction of the website the agency has created regarding what it calls the 30 Crossing project. One of the questions is similar to yours: If through traffic was diverted to I-440, could I-30 be converted into a boulevard?
Short answer: Traffic is already being diverted to I-440, which serves as a downtown bypass route.
For a long answer, please hold on to your hat.
A lot of that diverted traffic is trucks. Truck volumes on I-30 are much lower than on I-440, according to 2014 figures, 6 percent vs. 32 percent.
More importantly, at least to our dim mind, is that only 18 percent of traffic on I-30 is through traffic. We took off our shoes and calculated that 82 percent of I-30 traffic is local. Some of that traffic is your esteemed correspondent, who with 1.2 zillion other people uses the I-30 river bridge to go from the north side of the river to the south side. And then back. Or vice versa.
Our own anecdotal observation is that the I-30 bridge is now crowded no matter when we cross it -- morning, noon or night.
BTW: The final phase of the 30 Crossing project, design and construction, is supposed to start toward the end of this year. The end point is set at early 2023.
How will traffic be managed during this extended nightmare period?
The highway department says its policy will be to keep three lanes of traffic open in each direction during peak traffic periods. Whenever feasible, of course. Expect lanes to be reduced in width in certain areas. There will be temporary lane closures. Speed limits will be reduced. There will be temporary detours.
O Great Seer of All Things Roady: Have you any contacts to share with us the planned opening of that new stretch of Interstate 269 that will connect Interstate 55 to Interstate 22 in Mississippi? T'will make the drive from northeast Arkansas to Birmingham so much nicer. -- Foundry
Dear Foundry: Your question actually made reference to Interstate 69. We were corrected by Jason Scott, public information manager for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. T'is Interstate 269, a loop around Memphis, that is the issue at hand.
Scott tells us that I-269 in Mississippi will run from Hernando to Collinsville, Tenn., a distance of 26 miles. Tennessee, he says, has completed its section. What I-269 will do is take commercial vehicle traffic off Interstate 55 and thus reduce congestion.
But when? Scott says Mississippi's piece of the pie will open this year, in either late summer or early fall.
Metro on 01/13/2018
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