10-lane project for I-30 in Little Rock gets federal OK

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 173 views 

The Federal Highway Administration has accepted a recommendation by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to expand Interstate 30 to 10 lanes through downtown Little Rock, a project that includes the replacing of the I-30 Arkansas River Bridge, the AHTD announced in a press release Wednesday.

The project, known as the 30 Crossing, will include five lanes in each direction from south of Broadway Street in North Little Rock to the Highway 10 interchange north of 3rd Street in Little Rock. Two of the lanes in each direction will serve as collector/distributor lanes, Collector/distributor lanes are separated from the main lanes by a barrier and connect by ramps to the rest of the interstate. Speed limits are lower than the rest of the interstate but higher than frontage roads.

The acceptance letter, which was received July 1, comes after a year-long planning and environmental linkages (PEL) study that considered the system’s capacity, safety and deficiencies. AHTD began considering alternatives in April 2014. The study considered the area on I-30 between I-40 and I-530, as well as an area on I-40 between JFK Boulevard and U.S. Highway 67.

The recommendation now will undergo a National Environmental Policy Act study for more detailed analysis of interchange design, location of ramps and interchanges, and potential impacts.

Construction of the interchange is scheduled to begin in 2018. Prior to that, the environmental and schematic phase is scheduled to be completed in mid-2016, with design-build work beginning in early 2017.

Randy Ort, AHTD assistant chief for administration, said the project will be constructed using a design-build to a budget process. The same team will design and construct the roadway based on a dollar figure.

“We’re basically going to say, what can you do in this corridor for this amount of money,” he said.

The amount of money is yet to be determined, Ort said.

“They’ve been tossing around $400 to $450 million, but the actual (number) that we land on is still a moving target,” he said.

The project is part of the Connecting Arkansas Program, a voter-approved initiative funded by a 10-year, half-cent sales tax that includes 35 congestion-relieving projects in 19 corridors.