Downtown Little Rock businesses worry I-30 construction will deter customers

The park in front of the Clinton Library in Little Rock is now the center of one of the state’s biggest construction projects.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Business owners in the River Market District near the I-30 bridge worry the massive construction project will drive people away from visiting downtown Little Rock.

The park in front of the Clinton Library is now the center of one of the state’s biggest construction projects.

“This two weeks ago, kids were on cardboard sledding down it,” Jarrod Johnson said.

It has downtown residents like Jarrod Johnson concerned for nearby businesses.

“Once they start cutting off and relocating on and off-ramps to the interstate, it’s going to severely impact traffic’s access to downtown,” he said. “It’s sad to think what it could do or what it will do to our downtown landscape.”

“I was very shocked the first time I drove to the restaurant and I saw what was going on.”

Florencia Bruzatori is the co-owner of Buenos Aires Cafe, which is steps away from the I-30 project.

“It’s been a very stressful year. I was very shocked the first time I drove to the restaurant and I saw what was going on,” she said.

Construction on the bridge has permanently shut down the only two free parking lots in downtown Little Rock.

“A lot of our customers use those; our employees use those spaces,” Bruzatori said.

Bruzatori worries this will deter her customers away.

“We’re very concerned because we don’t know if people are going to stop coming to town until the construction is over,” she said.

Kelly Bass is the CEO of the Museum of Discovery; right next door to Buenos Aires.

“I’m not really about the construction as much as I am the perception that it’s a problem,” he said.

He said he will be working to make sure people know it will still be easy to get to the museum through the construction process. 

You just have to pay attention to the changing exit closures.

“We just have to hope people aren’t intimidated by the construction and choose to not come versus just figuring it out,” Bass said.

A spokesperson for the River Market said changing exit closures and construction will take place until at least 2023.