Which do you prefer at Frisco Trail & MLK – a tunnel, a bridge or a crosswalk?

With a Frisco Trail southern extension on the horizon, city officials are asking residents to help decide the best way for trail users to cross Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Should the trail be built in a tunnel, on a bridge, or directly on the street using a crosswalk?

Several people gave their opinions Thursday evening during a public meeting held at the Senior Activity and Wellness Center, but staff will continue to accept input through June 22 (here’s a link to a PDF version of the form to fill out).

Trails coordinator Matt Mihalevich said after public input is closed, the three options will also be considered during the July 11 meeting of the Active Transportation Advisory Committee. Since Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is a state highway, the issue must also be forwarded to the Arkansas Highway Department for consideration. Eventually, the Fayetteville City Council’s Street Committee will have the final say.

If all goes according to plan, city staff said this project will be fully funded without any cost to the city. Grants from The Home Depot Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation will cover the design, while construction is expected to be covered by the Walton Family Foundation as part of the Razorback Regional Greenway, a planned 36-mile trail system that will stretch from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista.

The options

Engineers with Garver LLC were on hand Thursday to discuss the three choices. Here’s a brief overview of each crossing option.

Newly completely trail tunnel under Garland Avenue. (see more photos)

The tunnel would stretch 114 feet diagonally from the current dead-end point of Frisco Trail at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to an area just west of the Farmer’s Cooperative. The tunnel would be built exclusively for the trail, similar to the 270-foot tunnel that was just completed under Garland Avenue (see photos here). The estimated cost of the tunnel is $1,339,397.

A bridge would require a slight western detour on Prairie Street to align the trail with Gregg Avenue. It would then stretch 153 feet diagonally from Gregg to an area just east of Government Avenue and would require some land acquisition south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Since the bridge would need to be 20 feet tall, a 310-foot ramp would be constructed on each side to ensure a gradual slope and, according to city staff, would likely require permanently closing Gregg Avenue to vehicular traffic. The estimated cost of the bridge, not including land acquisition, is $1,615,088.

At-grade crosswalk
A street-level crossing would require a more extensive western detour on Prairie Street (including a bridge over a stream) to eventually align the trail with Government Avenue where it would head south and then cross Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with a full traffic signal. It would continue south before turning east to connect with the currently planned trail extension. The estimated cost of the crosswalk is $960,726.