SPRINGDALE -- The city has six trail projects in some stage of planning or construction and has allocated all of its money available this year for the projects, reported Brad Baldwin, director of the city's Engineering and Public Works departments.
That means $10 million for new trails and projects currently underway, he said.
Springdale adopted its Trail Plan in 2018, according to Patsy Christie, the city's director of planning. The city's Parks and Recreation Department maintains 26 miles of trails, said Chad Wolf, department director.
The city each year budgets $1 million for building trails, Baldwin said. The money comes to the city through the 1/2-cent sales tax on gasoline. The money goes to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, which allocates money back to cities and counties, he said.
The city also uses federal and state grants, which often are matched by the city dollar for dollar or with the city paying 20% and the grant paying 80%. The Walton Family Foundation also has contributed millions of dollars in grants to build trails throughout the region.
"We apply for everything and see what we get," Baldwin said.
"The trails committee has come to a good place to sit back and reevaluate," Baldwin said. "They need to consider if they want to make some connections between existing trails before pushing out east and west with new projects."
The six projects underway include:
• Dean's Trail, Phase 2 will run from Oriole Street, underneath East Robinson Avenue and back to Sara Ford Avenue at J.O. Kelly Middle School. Cost: $1.6 million. Completion: late 2021.
• Dean's Trail, Phase 3A will run from Sara Ford Avenue to the Springdale Animal Shelter on Electric Avenue. Cost: $3.1 million. Completion: summer 2022.
• Dean's Trail, Phase 3B will run from the animal shelter to hook up with the trails at Lake Fayetteville. This project isn't funded.
• Spring Creek Trail will run from the western trailhead of the Thunder Chicken Mountain Bike trails to the J.B. and Jonelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center on North 40th Street. Cost: $2.3 million. Completion: January 2022.
• Watkins Avenue will be a bridge strictly for bicycle and pedestrian traffic over Interstate 49 at Watkins Avenue to connect Randal Tyson Recreational Complex to Arkansas Children's Northwest, Arvest Ballpark and Northwest Arkansas Community College. Cost: $70,000. Completion: summer 2022.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission several weeks ago awarded Springdale $125,000 to help build the bicycle and pedestrian bridge. A grant from the Arkansas Transportation Department in November gave the city $250,000 for the same project.
• Har-Ber Avenue extension will accompany a road project starting at West Emma Avenue and Gutensohn Road, crossing Interstate 49 and connecting with Har-Ber Avenue. Cost: $500,000. Completion: fall 2022.
The Northwest Arkansas Trailblazers have started a trail project to the Fitzgerald Mountain bicycle trails off Old Missouri Road to The Jones Center and downtown Springdale. The group has said it will deed the trail to the city.
Several of these projects are awaiting design approval by the Transportation Department. They have been delayed because of restrictions related to covid-19, Baldwin said. Any project that receives state or federal highway money requires state approval, he added.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Plan in December 2015. The commission began in 2000 a long-range planning process that included regional trails as a key component.
The Walton Family Foundation in 2018 released the results of a study that found bicycling provided $137 million to the Northwest Arkansas economy, including $86 million in total health benefits.
The Walton foundation has provided $74 million to support construction of 163 miles of natural-surface trails and paved paths in Northwest Arkansas, the report continued. A 2020 update of the Walton foundation study lists 484 miles of trails in Northwest Arkansas.
The backbone of the region's trail system is the 37.5-mile Razorback Greenway, opened in 2015. The paved, shared-use trail extends from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista.
Trail plans in place for Springdale and 31 other cities in Northwest Arkansas have the shared goal of trail development to tie all residents to the Razorback Greenway, which provides access to every city in the region.
"We're not close to finishing what we adopted in 2015," Conklin said. The regional trails plan set out to create a world-class trail program.
Creators of the plan identified 17 catalyst projects, which all cities continue to implement.
The project for Springdale was a loop in the western part of town, connecting the Razorback Greenway in downtown to the Razorback Greenway at Tyson Parkway, a distance of about 10 miles.
This loop would connect downtown to the Tyson Food corporate offices to Arvest Ballpark, Johnson, Elm Springs and Tontitown.