Western Beltway Feasibility Study
July 28, 2008
Mr. Jeff Hawkins
NWA Regional Planning Commission
1311 Clayton Street
Springdale, AR 72762
Dear Mr. Hawkins:
I am writing as a citizen of Fayetteville and Washington County to express my views on the proposed feasibility study for a western beltway in western Washington and Benton County. For several reasons, I recommend that the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission not approve this amendment to the 2030 Regional Long Range Transportation Plan to fund the $820,750 study at this time.
First priority for funding any study should be given to undertaking a "Transportation Alternatives Analysis", wherein all the transportation concepts should be studied and examined in relation to each other, including improvements to I-540, state highways, city streets, mass transit buses, light rail, and walking and biking trails.
Second, it is not clear to me that the proposed western beltway that would bypass the major cities in our region would promote our shared goal of a transportation system that improves connections between and among our communities or our stated principle to encourage land development patterns that promote transportation efficiency and to support in-fill development and the concentration of new commercial and office space activity that enhance the selection of alternative forms of transportation. Our objective should be to identify transit corridors that allow higher density mixed-use areas to be served by public transit, encourage major facilities to locate along planned public transit lines, and implement "transit friendly" strategies.
Third, Fayetteville and Washington County have recently become members of the Regional Mobility Authority. This new organization should be involved in any such a major transportation decision that could preempt alternative solutions. This organization should be committed to providing a comprehensive inter-modal transportation system which most efficiently serves the human and economic needs of the metropolitan area and Northwest Arkansas region, and they should be able to consider all available options regarding such a system.
Finally, I think there has been far too little opportunity for public input on the proposed western beltway. The comment period was quite limited, and, to my knowledge, there have been no public hearings in Fayetteville that would allow our citizens to hear the arguments for the project, consider its merits relative to the alternatives, and express their opinions. They should be considered and consulted.
Fayetteville, AR 72701