FAYETTEVILLE — City officials hope to piggyback off the first bond issue voters overwhelmingly approved 13 years ago spearheading trail development and increasing alternative transportation routes.
Nearly $6.9 million of the $226 million proposed for capital projects in a bond referendum would go to building about 10 miles of trails. Voters will be asked April 9 to continue the city’s 1 percent sales tax to pay for the projects.
It won’t be the first time city voters will be asked to use bond money for trails. A $2.1 million referendum from 2006 helped build what became the Razorback Green-way through the city.
Fayetteville has a five-year trail plan it updates with recommendations from the Active Transportation Advisory Committee, a mostly resident panel focusing on sidewalks and trails. About $1.5 million annually is dedicated to the plan, which is enough to build about 2 miles of trail each year.
“The mayor’s committed to continuing that. If the bond passes, then it’s an addition,” Trails Coordinator Matt Mihalevich said. “It’s really going to allow us to get ahead on some of these projects by going above the 2 miles per year of new trail and catch up with some of these more difficult projects.”
The trail projects list amounts to four major routes and two smaller connections.
Some of the proposed routes go through city right of way, but easements will have to be negotiated with property owners for several segments, Mihalevich said. Money associated with each project can be used for land acquisition in addition to construction, he said.
About $1.6 million in grants are anticipated from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and the Walton Family Foundation, he said, bringing the estimated cost for the projects to about $8.5 million.
Work on some of the projects would begin next year if voters approve the bond.
SHILOH DRIVE/MLK BOULEVARD
The longest trail project would have a 7.5-mile route from the intersection at Shiloh Drive and Garland Avenue near the Fulbright Expressway south to Kessler Mountain Regional Park.
Trail planners want to build the route in sections, which is why it’s listed as three projects. Estimated cost for all three pieces is just more than $2 million.
Several segments along the route were built as development occurred, Mihalevich said. For example, there’s a trail from the top of Shiloh Drive to Moore Lane. The bond projects would link the segments.
The trail would connect to other trails along the way, with a bridge proposed over Hamestring Creek.
The state is working on putting a bicycle and pedestrian path along Wedington Drive at the Interstate 49 interchange. The project is still in development, Mihalevich said.
A big reason the city wants to take on the Shiloh trail is because of a new park it acquired. The City Council agreed to buy Centennial Park last year with the intention of turning it into a mountain biking attraction. Trail spurs north and south of the park are included on the bond issue.
The trail also would link Centennial Park to Kessler Mountain Regional Park by way of the Cato Springs Road trail.
Laura Canter, a member of the Transportation Committee, said the Shiloh trail connections stand out to her the most. She lives near Porter Road and Deane Street and frequently goes west of the interstate for her job and other needs.
“I have to get in my truck and drive 3 miles to go the grocery store,” she said. “I’m somebody who cycles a lot. Once this is completed, I can get on my bike and do that.”
Another major route would run east-west through the Shiloh Drive trail.
The estimated $2 million project along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and at the interchange would include the trail roundabout. A tunnel would go under MLK to connect to the roundabout.
ST. PAUL TRAIL
The south part of town is set to get about a 3.5-mile route.
The most expensive item on the list, about $2.85 million, would extend St. Paul Trail to the Razorback Greenway on the west, past the West Fork of the White River, and east to Dead Horse Mountain Road.
The St. Paul Trail between Morningside Drive and Armstrong Avenue is the city’s oldest. It was made of asphalt, instead of concrete, and hasn’t held up well as a result, Mihalevich said.
The project would involve replacing 4,180 feet with concrete, making it 12 feet wide and adding lighting.
The new route would begin at the zero point of the Razorback Greenway and reach east all the way to the West Fork of the White River. Spurs would connect to Combs and White River parks, and a bridge using the concrete base from the railroad would get trailgoers across the river. The project is more expensive than the others because of the bridge, Mihalevich said.
A paddle park is proposed at the Pump Station Dam in the area. That project is part of the parks bond issue.
Steve Frankenberger, another member of the Transportation Committee, said he thinks the trail, bridge and paddle park will transform the area and make it a tourist attraction.
“That whole corridor there along the White River is in a floodplain. It’s worthless land,” he said. “I think it could just be beautiful.”
Another connection to the greenway would go behind Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.
The Sublett Creek Trail, planned at $1.28 million, would start from a new signaled crosswalk at Poplar Street and College Avenue. It would go behind the businesses on College and the shopping center. Spurs would go through the Brooks-Hummel preserve, and an on-street bike way is planned to run along Lakeridge Drive at Lake Lucille.
The trail would go east across Mission Boulevard with a signaled crosswalk, then head north, connecting to Old Wire Road cycle track, which is under construction.
A project included on the separate transportation bond issue would build a bicycle lane and sidewalk along Poplar Street from College Avenue, connecting the Sublett Creek Trail to the greenway.
Two other small sections would connect gaps. One would complete the loop of the Tsa La Gi Trail across Razorback Road. The other would have about 460 feet of trail and a 100-foot-long bridge at Hamestring Creek, west of the Shiloh trail.
Stacy Ryburn can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @stacyryburn.