The slowdown starts at the Interstate 30 to I-40 West split, when traffic cautiously hugs retaining walls and pillars holding the John F. Kennedy Boulevard overpass. Cars, trucks and tractor-trailers stop-and-go as merging motorists test zero-to-60 mph performance while eluding cross-over traffic attempting the Levy exit.
Until recently, west-bound drivers faced double-jeopardy after crossing the Levy Bridge . Signs screamed — “Slow! Slow! Slow!” — at drivers who found themselves immediately on top of others trying to enter the expressway from a dead stop. F-bombs and other profanities sometimes rise just above the squeal of tires leaving rubber on the asphalt.
Some people change the time of their daily commute in hopes of bypassing the stress. Some change the route, while others completely avoid the area. As a result, extended interstate construction often claims a typical business or two. But MacArthur Drive business owners seem atypical.
“We’re kind of a destination store where people are going to seek it out and go to it,” says Mike Byrum, owner of Fermentables Home Brew and Winemakers Supply, located just off MacArthur Drive at 3915 Crutcher St. “It’s been inconvenient for people, I’m sure, but it’s somewhere they’ve got to go.”
Prepare to Stop
Discount superstores can be found almost anywhere in North Little Rock , but not on the old Conway Highway . On the nearly two-mile stretch between the MacArthur Drive on-ramp and the Camp Robinson entrance, businesses survive by catering to distinct clienteles. This eclectic stretch includes shops for tattoos, hobbies, wigs, clothes, donuts, trophies, music, hardware, motorcycle sales and service (and a specialty chopper shop), memorabilia and adult novelties, as well as a daytime and nighttime diner, a bakery outlet, a Mexican restaurant, a few night clubs and gas stations, a couple of liquor stores and a local grocery. Continue reading