Park Avenue and Trenton Boulevard / Staff photo
A gift from the Walton Family Foundation will pay for a new bikeway connector between the Razorback Greenway and Mission Boulevard.
City Council members last week accepted a $385,000 grant from the foundation for the Mission-Razorback Connector project which aims to improve the on-street bike corridor along Prospect Street, Park Avenue, Trenton Boulevard and Rebecca Street.
The plan is to connect the upgraded corridor to a new trail that’s currently being designed along Mission Boulevard. That project is set for construction in 2022.
Once the work is finished in early 2023, the two new sections will complete an 11-mile loop that includes sections of the Old Wire Cycle Track, Niokaska Creek Trail, Mud Creek Trail and the Razorback Greenway.
Matt Mihalevich, the city’s trails coordinator, said while cyclists currently use portions of the connector, the upgrades should make the route feel more safe.
“The goal is to try and make that corridor as comfortable for cyclists as possible,” said Mihalevich. “We tried to make it comfortable for all ages and abilities.”
City of Fayetteville / Enlarge image
More than 12,000 people live within one mile (or a 6-minute bike ride) of the center point of the route, which passes through residential and commercial streets, and connects to the Greenway at Wilson Park.
Mihalevich said the work includes some innovative design ideas.
The most significant portion of the project includes testing the concept of a “yield street” on Trenton Boulevard. The plan is to build a mountable raised side path along the north side of Trenton that can be used by people walking and riding bikes, but can also be driven on by vehicles when the area is clear.
The work also includes widening the sidewalk on Prospect Street from the greenway to Wilson Avenue to a 10-foot side path and improving the intersection to provide enhanced bike and pedestrian access to Wilson Park. The remaining portions of the route will include shared bike lane markings and improved wayfinding signage.
Mihalevich said the project will use existing right-of-way along the on-street connector, so there’s no need for any property acquisition. Also, he said, all of the current on-street parking spaces will remain throughout the corridor.
The entire cost of the work will be funded by the Walton Family Foundation grant. Instead of asking for the typical 50-50 match, the foundation offered to pay for the full project as long as the city agreed to complete the planned trail along Mission Boulevard.
“It’s all part of the same network, so (the foundation) felt like our work on Mission would count as our match,” Mihalevich said.
The connector begins near Wilson Park at Frisco Trail which is part of the Razorback Greenway.
The trail currently includes a side path for access from the intersection of Frisco Avenue and Prospect Street. Mihalevich said the side path will be widened to 10 feet and Frisco Avenue will be narrowed to 15 feet at the intersection to reduce the length of the crosswalk leading to Prospect Street.
An existing 6-foot sidewalk along the south side of Prospect will be widened to 10 feet by narrowing the street to 20 feet and rebuilding the curb.
The area along Prospect Street from Gregg Avenue to Wilson Avenue currently has a lot of bike and pedestrian traffic, so a lot of attention was focused on improving the safety of that stretch, Mihalevich said.
The plan is to remove the raised median on Prospect to gain enough space to keep the road width at 20 feet while also widening the sidewalk to 12 feet.
The intersection at Wilson Avenue will be converted to a 3-way stop and narrowed a bit to create a shorter crosswalk. Mihalevich said a dedicated bike crosswalk will also be added across Wilson.
From there, pedestrians can use some upgraded paths to access the Wilson Park walking trail, while cyclists will be directed toward an on-street path to continue east on Prospect. Mihalevich said traffic volumes decrease dramatically east of the intersection, so on-street travel in that area should be safe enough for people on bikes.
Prospect Street will include a dedicated bike lane for cyclists turning south onto Park Avenue. The lane will include 12-inch-wide curb that’s raised about 3 inches to discourage vehicle traffic from entering the bikeway. The mountable curb, however, can be driven over by emergency vehicles when necessary.
The area along Trenton Boulevard includes the most significant work since the street is already very narrow.
The plan is to build a 9-foot trail on the north side of the road that’s separated from vehicle traffic with another mountable curb. The idea is to allow vehicles to drive onto the bikeway when encountering oncoming traffic when no pedestrians or cyclists are present.
Intersection improvements are also planned at Park Avenue.
The mountable curbed path will continue east towards College Avenue, and driveway crossing improvements are planned for the commercial areas to the north along Trenton.
The bikeway will tie into the existing trail spur at College Avenue.
Bike and pedestrian traffic can then cross College using an existing pedestrian hybrid beacon system that’s designed to allow protected crossings with minimal disruption to vehicular traffic.
After crossing College Avenue, the corridor will utilize the existing commercial parking lot by way of a new ramp on the west side of the lot.
The idea, Mihalevich said, is to avoid the intersection of Rebecca Street, which is already a tricky area to navigate.
The remainder of the corridor to Mission Boulevard will simply include Sharrow symbols on the road surface reminding drivers to share the street with cyclists.