The Whispers Blog

Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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Video: Here's How I-30 Would Look After Widening

The Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department has completed a year-long study of the proposed Interstate 30 widening project through the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The project has been branded the "30 Crossing" and would entail replacing the current bridge over the Arkansas River and widening to 10 lanes the stretch of I-30 from the Interstate 530 junction in southeast Little Rock to the Highway 67 junction in North Little Rock. Estimated completion of the project is early 2020.

Here's video of how the I-30 corridor would change:

The project would include widening portions of Interstate 40 in North Little Rock as well. The study, dubbed the I-30 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study, found that the project would relieve traffic congestion, improve roadway safety, address structural and functional roadway and bridge deficiencies, and improve water navigation safety.

Read the full report here. More details on the project are available here.

"The study took a first look at I-30’s system capacity, safety and deficiencies within the study area," said Ben Browning, named by AHTD as the director for the project, in a news release. "Following the PEL process has provided the opportunity to initiate early coordination with agencies, stakeholders and the public, while also providing a mechanism to make early planning-level decisions that will reduce the time needed to complete the environmental process."

Report: Alice Walton Is Selling Out of the Cutting Horse Business

Alice Walton

The Dallas Morning News and WesternBloodstock.com report that Wal-Mart heiress and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art founder Alice Walton is selling out of the horse business at her ranch in Texas.

Walton, who lives near Fort Worth, breeds cutting horses and, according to the Morning News, has had six championship horses since 2000. But she's now leaving the sport, choosing to spend more time focusing on Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, and other endeavors, according to the WesternBloodstock.com post:

But it is time for me to pull back and focus on other things that really matter to me. I opened Crystal Bridges (Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.) in 2011, and that takes a lot of my time. I also have other philanthropic interests that I want to focus on.

Walton says she'll continue to live near Fort Worth.

Crittenden County Voters OK Tax Increase to Reopen Hospital

Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless at the Crittenden Regional Hospital, which closed last year.

Despite severe weather that ripped through the area last night, Crittenden County voters approved a 1 percent sales tax increase to help reopen the Crittenden Regional Hospital, which closed last year.

WATN-TV reports that 2,846 voted for the tax and 439 voted against.

As Arkansas Business detailed in Monday's cover story, Ameris Health of Nashville, Tennessee, had agreed to operate the West Memphis hospital if the sales tax was approved.

Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless told Arkansas Business last week that Ameris would operate a smaller hospital than Crittenden Regional, which had operated with 140 beds, but more services could be added if the demand arises.

Since the hospital closed in September, county residents have been are forced to go to Memphis, Jonesboro or Forrest City for their emergency medical care, Wheeless said.

"With the hospital being closed, it’s put a major burden on emergency services," Wheeless said.

Here's the New UALR Trojans Logo

The new primary UALR Trojans logo, unveiled today.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock this morning unveiled its new athletic department logos. Chasse Conque, the UALR athletic director, said a new Trojans website will also go live at noon.

"I am hopeful that clearly aligning Trojan Athletics with our city will continue to build pride among those of us that call the Little Rock metropolitan area home," Conque said. "While we have had several names as an institution over the years, we have been and will forever be Little Rock."

The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to light the three bridges connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock in maroon tonight in honor of UALR's new look. The bridge will also glow maroon for each of the Trojans' home basketball games next season.

The logo was designed by the UALR Office of Communications with Dusty Higgins as the primary artist. For the design geeks among you, all logos will use the official university colors of maroon — Pantone 209 — silver — Pantone 877 — and white.

Twitter Reactions of Interest to SCOTUS Ruling

Friday's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that extends same-sex marriage to the entire country is "blowing up" Twitter, as expected.

We've corralled some reactionary tweets of interest to Arkansans: