- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas highway officials will begin holding public meetings on how to improve Interstate 30 in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The first meeting will be held Tuesday in North Little Rock, and another will be held Thursday in Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1sNl4Zp ). Those who attend will be able to view maps and exhibits, ask questions and provide input on how to improve the interstate. Attendees can also give suggestions on what engineers should keep in mind, such as businesses and schools, when considering adding lanes or modifying I-30 near the Arkansas River.

“We will be in listening mode,” said Jerry Holder, an engineer with Garver LLC and the I-30 corridor project construction manager. “We want people to come in and tell us where the problems are.”

Spokesman Randy Ort said the department is using a 2003 study as a “building block” for a different study the agency is working on.

The 11-year-old study said widening I-30 in Little Rock and North Little Rock to 10 lanes would be the only option to provide an acceptable level of traffic service. It found that at peak volumes, some motorists experienced speeds typically in the range of 30 mph.

The problems associated with the road go beyond it being limited to six lanes, the study said. It said some of the interstate’s problems are related to its design, which is more than 50 years old.

Ort said the report is a “good document, but things have changed.”

The 2003 study estimated the cost to widen the corridor at hundreds of millions lower than what the department expects to pay now for the construction, which also would include replacing the bridge over the Arkansas River.

“We used it as a starting point to inform ourselves,” Holder said. “But it’s 11 years old. A lot of things have changed in 11 years.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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