Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties, in coordination with the Arkansas Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, are studying location alternatives for the Southwest Trail. The purpose is to provide a connection to Hot Springs National Park, the Old River Bridge on the Saline River, the Little Rock Central High School Historic Site, and the Arkansas River Trail System that allows for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely enjoy outdoor recreation while providing an economic stimulus to the local and regional economies.
The purpose of the Environmental Assessment (EA) is to identify a preferred trail alignment that minimizes the negative impacts to the natural and social environment while addressing the needs of the project to the greatest extent possible.
After the public meetings in Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties, the project team has been reviewing and incorporating public input, and revising the proposed trail alignments. Additional environmental studies and design work is taking place. An environmental document will be prepared later this year, followed by a public meeting anticipated in spring 2020 to review the revised alignment and Environmental Assessment document.
The next round of public meetings is anticipated in spring 2020. Public meetings will be held in Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties. Email PublicInvolvement@GarverUSA.com to ensure inclusion on the project contact list.
Public outreach will include and exceed the below methods used during the first round of meetings in 2018:
- Newspaper Ads in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, The Saline Courier, and The Sentinel-Record
- Hand-delivered flyers to public locations along the alignment
- News releases sent to media in Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties
- Social media posts made through various groups on Facebook and Twitter
- Email and mail notifications sent to previous public meeting attendees along with those who have requested inclusion on the contact list
- Websites posting information, such as SWTrail.TransportationPlanroom.com, and the county websites for Pulaski, Saline, and Garland
- Postcards mailed to property owners along the alignment. (Property owners within a 20-foot buffer zone of the alignment will be mailed a postcard per the address identified on property owner documentation)
- Paid Service Announcements on several local radio stations
No. The trail alignment is being studied and the project team anticipates a preferred alignment will be determined this fall. The trail is approximately 60 miles long and located in parts of Garland, Saline, and Pulaski counties. Environmental and Design firm Garver is working to revise proposed trail alignments and is performing environmental studies. In addition to considerations given to public comments received, the project team is looking at road crossings, bridges and culverts, railroad crossings, residential and business impacts, economic and indirect impacts, Environmental Justice, wetlands and floodplains, endangered species, access and user safety, community connections, trail grade, hazardous materials sites, and right of way.
The next round of public meetings is anticipated spring 2020. Public meetings will be held in Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties.
The trail is estimated to be approximately 60 miles long and located in Garland, Saline, and Pulaski counties.
The trail will use a variety of shared-use paths along existing roadways as well as new location sections. Examples of various path construction options are included in the typical sections pdf.
The design process involves more than drawing lines on maps. There are many considerations to make the Southwest Trail a safe, enjoyable, cost-efficient trail that fits well into the communities it will impact. Some of these considerations include:
Road crossings, bridges and culverts, railroad crossings, safety, residential impacts, business impacts, economic impacts, indirect impacts, Environmental Justice, wetlands, floodplains, endangered species, access and user safety, community connections, topography (trail grade), hazardous materials sites, and right of way and construction costs.
Funding for construction has not been determined, and the availability of funding will dictate when the trail sections are built and complete. It is likely the trail will be built in sections and over a period of time as funding allows. It is too early to say when construction will begin and be complete. Portions of the trail could begin to be built as early as fall 2020.
The preliminary estimate is approximately $42 million, which does not include any right-of-way acquisition. It is anticipated that the trail will be funded through a variety of ways, including grants and private financing.
Each jurisdiction will determine how the trail is maintained. The project team is already hearing from bicycling groups and other individuals who may volunteer their time.
The project team is currently working to define the alignment. If the final alignment is on your property, you will be contacted and negotiations will take place with you as the property owner.
The project is owned by Pulaski, Saline, and Garland counties. Engineering firm Garver is providing Environmental Assessment services. The Federal Highway Administration and ARDOT are providing oversight responsibilities in coordination with the counties.