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It is official the River Rail will not be expanded to the airport at this time. The cost is too great for the return. The study estimated that only 84 riders a day would use the extension. The company hired to do the study still has leftover funds and will now explore other areas for expansion. It is NLR's turn for expansion.

It was pretty far out anyways. Glad to hear they're exploring other options.

NLR is really starting to fill in.

If development is steered properly, I could imagine a small tram replacing the river rail in 20 years....i.e., by perhaps converting 2nd to tram + pedestrian/bikes only.

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Hello, I am an outsider from Australia where we call street cars trams. Out of pure curiosity, if your city is building a completely new light rail system then what is the reason for choosing 1920s

I agree an expansion down Main would be good but so would extending the end to the track south to 9th then west to Main and north to 2nd. The area east of l-30 is prime for redevelopment. Lost Forty h

As big of an advocate of urban planning concepts and smart growth as I am, I just don't get the huge outcry against this...as if this is the first time any highway department has proposed increasing c

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Hello, I am an outsider from Australia where we call street cars trams.

Out of pure curiosity, if your city is building a completely new light rail system then what is the reason for choosing 1920s era looking street cars? (And are they old restored street cars or newly built to look that way?)

My city has recently upgraded its tram fleet and you ocassionally see heritage trams running alongside more modern trams:

http://anilnetto.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/adelaide-trams.jpg

They all travel at the same speed on the same schedule so you'll reach your destination just as fast.

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Hello from Arkansas. My understanding is we had a trolley system in the early 1900's. With that being said, they wanted to give you the feel of historic Little Rock by using the old style of the streetcar when bringing the light rail system back. The trolleys are new and up to date, though they look old. I hope that answers your question.

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  • 3 years later...

The River Rail is 10 years old today. The success of the system depends on who you talk to. Since it started it has been mostly a tourist attraction. The following are some of the reasons that have held it back as a successful transit option(IMO).

 

1. Lack of people living along the line.

 

2. Argenta has not developed as hoped at the time the RR started.

 

3. The extension has not been successful. People walk or ride the free transport provided to the Clinton Library from the River Market.

 

4. Any major event that occurs in the River Market area results in the RR closing down.

 

The Library has taken bids to construct a parking deck facing the Riverfront Park and the River in the River Market. The result will be  to increase traffic in the River Market. I think it would have been better to take one of the parking lots at the Clinton Library facing l-30 and along 3rd Street and build a deck there. It would be along the RR extension and keep some of the autos out of the River Market.

 

Start working to extend the RR down Main to the developing SouthMain area. By doing this a connection would be made between Argenta on the north, South Main on the South and the RiverMarket and the Creative Corridor and the Little Rock Tech Park along Main St.

 

 

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The River Rail is 10 years old today. The success of the system depends on who you talk to. Since it started it has been mostly a tourist attraction. The following are some of the reasons that have held it back as a successful transit option(IMO).

 

1. Lack of people living along the line.

 

2. Argenta has not developed as hoped at the time the RR started.

 

3. The extension has not been successful. People walk or ride the free transport provided to the Clinton Library from the River Market.

 

4. Any major event that occurs in the River Market area results in the RR closing down.

 

The Library has taken bids to construct a parking deck facing the Riverfront Park and the River in the River Market. The result will be  to increase traffic in the River Market. I think it would have been better to take one of the parking lots at the Clinton Library facing l-30 and along 3rd Street and build a deck there. It would be along the RR extension and keep some of the autos out of the River Market.

 

Start working to extend the RR down Main to the developing SouthMain area. By doing this a connection would be made between Argenta on the north, South Main on the South and the RiverMarket and the Creative Corridor and the Little Rock Tech Park along Main St.

I'm not sure I can be convinced of any expansion of the rail. It's been a huge, expensive flop IMHO. If any expansion happens, southdown Main is most likely, but I just don't see it bringing anymore riders than it already gets. 

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Unless plans for the streetcar direct it west, I don't really see the need for expansion.  

 

It is my opinion (everybody has one) that the questions need to be "Who would ride the streetcar?" "Where do those who would ride the streetcar live?"  

 

I think the greater concentration of those who would be interested in using the streetcar as some sort of public transportation would be in the Hillcrest area.  I could be wrong (and probably am) but the planners don't seem to even think about heading west.  Maybe this is planned for Phase III.

 

I understand the compact with NLR requires planning and implementation into NLR and a direct north-south route would be a bit easier to implement, but I don't think the number of riders along the proposed south route would warrant expansion south to Roosevelt.  

 

Just my 2 cent thoughts and observations. 

 

Has anybody thought to look where the streetcars ran years ago and follow the routes that worked then?  

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All good comments.  Certainly its "success" has been dubious at best when it comes to a practical service, and therein lies the problem.  Regrettably its infrastructure was built more around a very local, low-speed route, which isn't even made up for in frequency.  Its basically a gimmick in its current form and expanse (or lack thereof).  The alternative would have been a dedicated right-of-way heavier rail system built for the purposes of transporting people from one neighborhood to the next, but lets be honest, we're not at the size or density to support that, even though it is being planned/conceptualized for future implementation along an east-west axis essentially paralleling the I-630 corridor (there's a REALLY detailed animation of it somewhere online, developed by Jacobs Engineering as I recall).

 

Overall, I'm glad we have it as its unique to many markets, especially for our size.  If ultimately it serves as a catalyst for a more permanent rail system, then I would deem it a success.  Time will tell.

 

p.s.  To be specific about potential expansion of the current system, I think it should turn south down Main first (to support the rapid development happening along that corridor), then out Markham/Kavanaugh to Hillcrest and the Heights.

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I don't believe you'd find many riders for a line in Hillcrest or the Heights. Years ago when the streetcars were a primary mode of transportation fewer workers owned automobiles. Also there were many more people working downtown. Looking at the residents of some of the old apartment buildings in Hillcrest it's obvious that they were full of downtown workers. Many single women who were likely salesclerks, secretaries and restaurant workers. Back in that day there were three locally owned banks downtown, and most all shopping was at the department stores. None of this exists today.

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I don't believe you'd find many riders for a line in Hillcrest or the Heights. Years ago when the streetcars were a primary mode of transportation fewer workers owned automobiles. Also there were many more people working downtown. Looking at the residents of some of the old apartment buildings in Hillcrest it's obvious that they were full of downtown workers. Many single women who were likely salesclerks, secretaries and restaurant workers. Back in that day there were three locally owned banks downtown, and most all shopping was at the department stores. None of this exists today.

 

I will admit it is more of a romantic notion; a throwback to earlier precedent...but it would still be cool!

 

This is really the implementation that would make most sense as a viable mode of transportation:  

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I don't believe you'd find many riders for a line in Hillcrest or the Heights. Years ago when the streetcars were a primary mode of transportation fewer workers owned automobiles. Also there were many more people working downtown. Looking at the residents of some of the old apartment buildings in Hillcrest it's obvious that they were full of downtown workers. Many single women who were likely salesclerks, secretaries and restaurant workers. Back in that day there were three locally owned banks downtown, and most all shopping was at the department stores. None of this exists today.

I agree. There is no room to increase the population in these areas. That is why I would like to see an extension down Main Street. It is a developing area where riding a streetcar wouldn't take up too much time but it is a little far to walk. Also, an area that could be prime for redevelopment is east of l-30 in downtown south of the Clinton Library. Extend the River Rail from the Library/Heifer International  stop south to 9th Street, then to Main Street and north on Main to the current track. This area is mostly vacant but is home to the expanding craft beer industry in LR. Also, the Hanger Hill neighborhood south of 9th is seeing new home construction. The property east of l-30 would be a good location for apartments as well as work/live units.

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  • 10 months later...

Bad news for the River Rail system. The "30 Crossing" plan by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to rebuild the l-30 bridge over the Arkansas River between LR/NLR would put an end to River Rail service east of l-30.  Just last week eStem announced they wanted to build a new school just south of Heifer International  and one of the reason they picked the site was the location would be near the River Rail. As we all know the AHTD never saw a highway that didn't need to be built except for the extension of 440. They want to expand the highway to 10 lanes in the River Market area and do away with public transit. On top of no more service the state will have to repay the federal government for the tracks.

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Bad news for the River Rail system. The "30 Crossing" plan by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to rebuild the l-30 bridge over the Arkansas River between LR/NLR would put an end to River Rail service east of l-30.  Just last week eStem announced they wanted to build a new school just south of Heifer International  and one of the reason they picked the site was the location would be near the River Rail. As we all know the AHTD never saw a highway that didn't need to be built except for the extension of 440. They want to expand the highway to 10 lanes in the River Market area and do away with public transit. On top of no more service the state will have to repay the federal government for the tracks.

While I think that displays a lot of hubris and lack of innovation by AHTD (and is entirely unsurprising), the truth is that rail expansion east of I-30 is much less important than expansion south down Main and even west down Markham/Kavanaugh (ultimately).  The core of the city is opposite I-30.

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I agree an expansion down Main would be good but so would extending the end to the track south to 9th then west to Main and north to 2nd. The area east of l-30 is prime for redevelopment. Lost Forty has proved that folks will go there day and night it they have a reason. I really don't see why apartments/mixed use will not be built in this area in the near future. It has all the reason to be developed due to its location near the CBD, the River Market and the airport.

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I agree an expansion down Main would be good but so would extending the end to the track south to 9th then west to Main and north to 2nd. The area east of l-30 is prime for redevelopment. Lost Forty has proved that folks will go there day and night it they have a reason. I really don't see why apartments/mixed use will not be built in this area in the near future. It has all the reason to be developed due to its location near the CBD, the River Market and the airport.

And a side benefit of such a route would be service to MacArthur Park and the Arkansas Arts Center, along with a few nearby high-rise residential buildings.

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While I think that displays a lot of hubris and lack of innovation by AHTD (and is entirely unsurprising), the truth is that rail expansion east of I-30 is much less important than expansion south down Main and even west down Markham/Kavanaugh (ultimately).  The core of the city is opposite I-30.

I agree to an extent.  A connection to the airport is important to any long-term plans in my opinion.  Cutting off the area east of I-30 is a mistake.  I understand why they did it.  With the expansion of the interstate, the AHTD did not want exit or entrance ramps to be crossed with rail lines.  However, there could have been some additional planning to relocate the lines through tunnels so that exit or entrance ramps would not be affected.  

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I agree to an extent.  A connection to the airport is important to any long-term plans in my opinion.  Cutting off the area east of I-30 is a mistake.  I understand why they did it.  With the expansion of the interstate, the AHTD did not want exit or entrance ramps to be crossed with rail lines.  However, there could have been some additional planning to relocate the lines through tunnels so that exit or entrance ramps would not be affected.  

The reason the AHTD gave was the streetcars travel too slow. If that is their reason will the AHTD ban bicycle traffic along 3rd street under l-30 as well as enforcing a minimum speed limit for autos and trucks? I also find it interesting that the AHTD waited so late into the planning process to announce that streetcars would not be allowed. 

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This showcases the AHTD's shortsighted approach to transportation.  The River Rail NEEDS to run to the airport.  Speaking from experience, I take light rail/metro in cities that offer it from the airport.  I'm disappointed.  Personally, I dream of the day when I can board a light rail car with my travel bag and go all the way to the airport, leaving my car parked safely in my garage.  Oh well...

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The reason the AHTD gave was the streetcars travel too slow. If that is their reason will the AHTD ban bicycle traffic along 3rd street under l-30 as well as enforcing a minimum speed limit for autos and trucks? I also find it interesting that the AHTD waited so late into the planning process to announce that streetcars would not be allowed. 

Good question.  

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My main objection is that the project will cost many millions of dollars, and disrupt the Little Rock steet design,  to save a few people, a little time. I can sympathize with commuters coming to work in Little Rock from the north. I lived in NLR and worked in downtown when there was only the Main Street and Broadway bridges. Later I used the Freeway/I30 Bridge when it still had a grass median and before the 430 and 440 bridges were built. The ASHD reminds me of George Fisher's cartoons of the Corps of Engineers and their "keep busy" attitude. They can build 10 lanes now and sometime in the future they'll want to add more lanes.

If the Highway Department wants to spend some money do something about the first 10 miles of I40 after crossing the bridge from Memphis. A wondeful road to introduce travelers to the state.

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The number of people/groups opposed to the 30 Crossing plan continues to grow. The main objection is that it will increase the speed of those traveling across the river at the expense of those living in the area.

As big of an advocate of urban planning concepts and smart growth as I am, I just don't get the huge outcry against this...as if this is the first time any highway department has proposed increasing capacity due to increasing demand.  It would be one this if there were NO freeway here, and one was planned...but it's already there, and widening it to accommodate continued growth seems like a logical response to me.  "Pretending" that we can handle growth and capacity by public transit and bike lanes, etc. is idealistic at best and just plain ridiculous at worst.

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