Discussions On I-630 Widening Project

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A project -- being looked at by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department -- is creating conflict in one Little Rock neighborhood.

One woman says if I-630 is widened, her home could be on the chopping block.

But, people have been complaining about the traffic issues and backups on I-630 for awhile, especially when there's an accident or during rush hour.

So the Transportation Department is taking a look at widening I-630 from University Avenue to I-30.

This is far from a done deal.

However, some folks are raising red flags about what could happen in their neighborhoods.

In the 1200 Block of Welch Street there's a home that dates back to 1872.

Homeowner Lakresha Diaz said, "It's not something you can sell and buy a new house and it would be the same."

But she's concerned it might come down to that if the AHTD expands I-630.

With her house just feet from the freeway right now, Diaz says history could be wiped out for traffic convenience.

She said, "But it's going to take out our houses, that's the major concern. Noise and those things are a concern as well, but the biggest concern is how close will it be to our property."

Earlier this month, AHTD Director Scott Bennett said they're in the beginning stages of studying the 630 expansion.

Bennett said, "Do we need 8 lanes, do we need 10 lanes? And that's part of the work that we will be undertaking within the next six months to year and I think we will have a clearer picture about this time next year."

So with months of studies and surveys ahead most people -- living near the freeway -- say it's not on their radar yet.

Joey Alexander said, "To me I just can't see how it's going to get rid of somebody's house."

But Diaz says she's staying ahead of the game being proactive so her voice is heard.

Diaz said, "We want to catch them before this is going to be a problem."

The Coalition of Greater Little Rock neighborhoods held a meeting today giving people the opportunity to talk about this project and other issues.

But no public meetings -- by the State Transportation Department -- have been scheduled yet for the I-630 widening project.

There's been other ideas tossed around, from community groups, like building a Chester Street Bridge across the Arkansas River, reducing the width of an I-30 span or something more simple like adding transit services.

At this point though, there's quite a bit to be worked out before any final decisions are made.

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