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An Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department proposal to widen Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock to 10 lanes calls for a smaller highway than a study recommended a dozen years ago.
A 2003 study by the Louis Berger Group consulting firm, commissioned by the Highway Department and Metroplan, found that "a minimum of 10 through lanes (five lanes in each direction) would be required on I-30" between Interstate 630 in Little Rock and Interstate 40 in North Little Rock to provide an acceptable level of service in 2025 and beyond.
The study also called for an extra, or 11th, lane on the bridge over the Arkansas River to more safely collect and distribute vehicles getting on and off the interstate in downtowns of both cities in the eastbound side only.
The current proposal to improve the 6.7-mile corridor between Interstate 530 in Little Rock and Interstate 40 in North Little Rock calls for six lanes for most of the route and 10 lanes (including six through lanes and four collector/distributor lanes) through the downtown area.
"It was in there as a solution," Scott Bennett, the state's top highway official, said of the wider configuration of the earlier study during an interview last week. "I don't know that anything has changed since then."