In case you haven’t noticed, I-540 isn’t exactly the most bike/pedestrian-friendly highway ever created. In fact, walking or biking down Northwest Arkansas’ busiest thoroughfare is probably pretty terrifying.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission (NWARPC) has been working on securing funding to provide a more practical way for bicycles and pedestrians to get from one Northwest Arkansas town to another, and that project took a big step forward recently.
Arkansas senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor on Saturday announced that the NWARPC have been awarded a $15 million TIGER II Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) for the project, tentatively called the Razorback Regional Greenway, to provide a 36-mile trail stretching from Fayetteville to Bella Vista, and connecting the cities in between. The “spine” connecting the region will make use of existing trails already in place in Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville, and Bella Vista.
The commission has been working on the project since the spring of 2009 with help from consulting group ALTA Planning and Design, who identified the route for the trail corridor.
The total project is estimated at about $38.5 million, and the NWARPC anticipates financial assistance from the Walton Family Foundation and other private funding sources to help complete funding for the project.
NWARPC executive director John McLarty said that he expects to receive the full announcement of the grant from the United States Department of Transportation this week.
“Once we receive that, we’ll have a better idea of what we still need as far as funding,” McLarty said.
Construction of the Razorback Regional Greenway will begin in 2011, and McLarty said that he hopes to complete the trail by 2013.