Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Heights-to-River Trail connection

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 9:20 AM

TRAIL PLANNING: Taylor and Scenic could be starting point.
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  • TRAIL PLANNING: Taylor and Scenic could be starting point.

I received an e-mail from the Heights Neighborhood Association about plans to develop a route for an ADA-accessible bike/pedestrian trail from the Heights down to the River Trail. Cantrell Road is no place for safe biking or hiking and the only other close connection, on Overlook, is steep.

City help is promised. Good luck with that. The $500 million tax increase being pushed by City Hall includes a princely $150,000 a year in the capital portion of the budget for trails — not enough to maintain what we have. We've been waiting forever on the city to deliver on its promise to "close the loop" on the River Trail by finishing the portion now diverted to a narrow sidewalk along Highway 10 in front of Episcopal Collegiate School. Then-state Rep. Sam Ledbetter wrung a hard-earned $1 million out of the state for the work six years ago, but the money languishes (the interest going to other city expenses), though that once was more than enough to widen the path on the school (south) side of Cantrell. However, Mayor Mark Stodola won't take on the Stephens family, which opposes any bike trail around the school, built with significant Stephens family contributions. Instead, the mayor favors an expensive plan to build a cantilevered steel and concrete elevated pathway behind Dillard's headquarters along the Arkansas River. This is contingent on federal grant money. Maybe $12 million is needed. Which is probably why nothing has happened.

Anyway, a nice thought about a Heights-to-the-river trail follows:

FROM TRUDIE CROMWELL:

HNA will be working with Ed Levy, Chair of the Little Rock Bike-Friendly Community Committee, and Bryan Day, Assistant City Manager, to develop a bicycle/pedestrian trail from the Heights to the River Trail. The plan is to develop an ADA accessible trail; at the current time there is no ADA accessible trail down to the River Trail from the Heights.

One possible location of the trailhead that Mayor Stodola has asked us to vet is where Taylor dead-ends into Scenic. We plan to begin looking at options in mid to late October and our first activity will be to hike from the Heights to the River Trail from different locations in the Heights to select the best route. It should be a lot of fun. Good shoes will be a must for the hiking part of the effort.

After we select the best route, we will be working with the city to get the bicycle/pedestrian trail built and paved. This trail will be the only bicycle/pedestrian connection between Riverdale and Pinnacle Valley Road that is easily negotiable by bike and on foot. All of the other LR access points to the River Trail are very steep, such as Overlook Dr. (We will also be creating a similar connection to Foxcroft.)

If you are interested in being a part of the Heights or the Foxcroft Trail,
please contact Ed at elevy@cromwell.com. Thank you.

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