Apr 2, 2022 - News

NWA trail system expansion to provide miles of greenway connectivity

The Gulley Park trail at dusk

The Gulley Park trail in Fayetteville. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The circulatory system of NWA has a great artery.

  • We're working on the veins.

The state of play: The Razorback Regional Greenway, which was completed in 2015, runs north-south for 36 miles, connecting southern Fayetteville with north Bentonville/Bella Vista.

  • For the last several years, each city has worked on east-west connectivity for residents to encourage use of the entire system.

A collective mantra for most NWA planners and trail coordinators is that a trailhead should be within a mile of one's starting and ending points.

Why it matters: As a trail system grows, it makes commuting safer for cyclists and pedestrians. The safer it is, the more people choose to leave cars behind to make trips, reducing traffic congestion, noise and emissions.

By the numbers: There are nearly 500 miles of trails in Benton and Washington counties, and they don't all connect. About 162 of those miles are paved multi-use; the rest are soft surface, which are more suited for mountain biking than commuting.

Yes, and: Each city has master plans that incorporate additional paved trails to continue to build connectivity with one another and the Greenway.

Quick take: a few current projects in the works:

1. Bella Vista broke ground March 31 on a project to turn a two-lane bridge over Sugar Creek into a four-lane bridge with an additional 16 feet for cycling and pedestrians.

  • This will connect the Greenway with western parts of Bella Vista.

2. Rogers, which is circled by the Railway Loop, will start working on about seven miles of connecting paved trails sometime this summer. These will mostly be in strategic parts of the middle of the circle, trail coordinator Kara King told Axios.

  • The city also is working to connect some disjointed mountain bike trails around Lake Atalanta, which will reduce traffic on the paved trail that loops the lake.

3. Fayetteville's trail coordinator, Matt Mihalevich, told us about a project that will connect the Greenway eastward to Mission Boulevard, then north and east to the Fairview Memorial Gardens cemetery area.

  • The east-west connection will use existing roads but plot a safe route across town.
  • The Mission Boulevard section will require construction of a 12-foot paved path and covering the ditches that carry runoff water.
  • That's expected to start in late 2022 and will take about a year and a half to complete, Mihaevich said.
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