Council OKs limited vehicle use on upcoming city trail connections

Photo: Todd Gill / Enlarge
A gravel road near I-540 and Porter Road that is normally only used during the Washington County Fair will soon be widened and paved to create a highly anticipated west connection of the city’s trail system.

For a few days each year, Fayetteville trail goers can expect to share a small portion of the city’s trail system with vehicles other than just bicycles.

UA property

The Fayetteville City Council last week approved an amendment to allow gas powered vehicles to operate on two soon-to-be-built connections of the city’s trail system, the largest being a nearly 1,500-foot section near the Washington County Fairgrounds.

Before the amendment cleared the council, gas-powered vehicles were not allowed on any of the city’s trails (city maintenance vehicles excluded).

That fact presented a bit of a problem for trails coordinator Matt Mihalevich, whose team had been planning an important west trail connection across the University of Arkansas Agricultural Research property. The 2.3-mile segment will extend from Scull Creek Trail west under I-540 to connect to the newly installed bike lanes along Mt. Comfort Road.

Clear Creek Trail

The plan was to utilize a gravel road that is currently used as overflow parking during the Washington County Fair. Not only would this save money, but according to city documents, this stretch of land was the only location the University of Arkansas agreed to allow the trail to be constructed.

“We plan to make the trail 16 feet wide there so if you did encounter a vehicle during that time, there would be extra room,” said Mihalevich at Thursday’s council meeting.

By paving it extra wide and adding cautionary signage, city staff felt like the trade-off of allowing vehicles on this stretch would be worth it.

The council members agreed and approved the ordinance 7-0.

The other portion of trail affected by the new law is on an upcoming segment of Clear Creek Trail. According to city staff, there is a tight area between a steep bluff and Lokomotion Family Fun Park where an existing gravel driveway that leads to a small cabin is the only option for the trail connection.