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Metroplan questions public on multiuse path ideas for central Arkansas

Ideas sought for applying $55 million by Noel Oman | July 27, 2021 at 6:51 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- Metroplan wants to dedicate $55 million to build regional greenways over the next 10 years but first wants ideas on where best to build a "robust" system of multiuse paths in central Arkansas.

A 12-question survey has been developed to allow the public to help identify "trail use habits, needs, and important destinations."

An "Interactive Map" tab allows users to comment on specific corridors for opportunities for connections or challenges a route might face, Metroplan said in a news release.

The survey is available at centralarkgreenways.com through Oct. 1.

Written comments may also be submitted to: Daniel Holland, Metroplan, 501 W. Markham St., Suite B, Little Rock, AR 72201. Comments may also be faxed to (501) 372-8060 or e-mailed to comments@metroplan.org. Call Metroplan at (501) 372-3300 for further information.

More than a year ago, the agency's board of directors voted to commit the $55 million to a multi-use trail system in Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties after the staff convinced them that would have more impact on the region than making road and bridge improvements.

The survey is part of the plan development being led by Crafton Tull, a civil engineering, surveying, architecture, landscape architecture and planning firm based in Northwest Arkansas, and Toole Design, a Maryland-based firm specializing in maximizing community walking, cycling and transit options.

The firms are operating under a $400,000 contract that has a June 2022 completion date, said Casey Covington, Metroplan's deputy director.

"The results will include the identification of routes in sufficient detail that projects can move to design," he said. "The plan will also include branding for the greenways network, implementation strategies and priorities, common design elements, cost estimates, and identification of partnership opportunities."

Building a regional multiuse network integrated into local trails, paths and sidewalks as well as street and transit networks, the board concluded, represents a "more complete transportation solution" for the region.

More broadly, such a network will provide benefits beyond transportation, including enhancing the region's quality of life and promoting economic development, board members said.

Developing amenities such as bicycle trails is an increasingly important component of attracting younger workers.

The decision came after a year in which board members visited two areas where multiuse paths play key roles in their respective regions.

It included a retreat in Bentonville, which is part of the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile shared-use trail extending from north Bentonville to south Fayetteville.

The greenway links six downtown areas; three hospitals; 23 schools; the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; the corporate headquarters of Walmart, J.B. Hunt Transport Services and Tyson Foods; and art and entertainment venues, historical sites and parks.

Board members visited Greenville, S.C., which features the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail that uses greenway networks and abandoned rail lines to link city neighborhoods with downtown Greenville, two parks, Furman University and the town of Travelers Rest.

The Metroplan initiative also builds on development of the Southwest Trail, a proposed 60-mile route from Central High School in Little Rock to Hot Springs.

That project received an $880,000 grant from the Federal Lands Access Program that will allow construction of three bridges on a 4.2-mile section of former Rock Island Railroad right of way between Hilaro Springs Road and the Saline County line.

Saline County also received money that will allow it to complete a crossing for the trail over the Saline River and look at beginning construction of its portion of the trail.

Print Headline: Agency questions public on path ideas

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