The Atlantic's Alana Semuels takes a look at local opposition of a current proposal from state planners to tear down an existing six-lane freeway and erect a ten-lane highway in its place over the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In fear that the proposal would thwart the River Market district's current and successful revitalization, local residents have formed a group, Improve 30 Crossing, to fight the plan from moving forward. The opposition also claim the 10-lane freeway could potentially harm the wetlands near the river, cause noise, and create pollution that would be harmful to nearby residents. Plans for highway expansions are currently being proposed in Birmingham, Ala., and Denver Colo., and are being met with similar opposition from residents.
“If [the Alabama Department of Transportation] proceeds unabated, they will be reinforcing something that has become a barrier in our community for 50 years, and making sure the barrier stays in place for the next 50,” Darrell O’Quinn, a resident of Birmingham who opposes the widening there, told me. The expansions are curious especially given the numerous studies that show that widening roads doesn’t reduce traffic.