Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stodola: Still working on the River Trail gap

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM

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Speaking of bicycles:

The JBarCyciling blog that mentioned Big Dam Bridge problems also speculated April 3 that Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola had abandoned the expensive idea of closing an existing gap on the River Trail in Little Rock with a cantilevered bike path behind the Dillard's headquarters on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River. The blog speculated that Stodola's fallback would be a bike party along the north side of Cantrell, cutting a path through Dillard's property that crosses driveways to the building.

i asked Stodola if the bluff plan was defunct. His response:

Have not given up. We are building the eastern portion (from the end of the current trail) to over the UP bridge and we are building the western portion from Riverside Marine over to in front of the warehouses, including a new bridge. The portion in the middle is in flux. I am still working on getting agreement to build on the river side of the bluff. Since the Sewer Committee was replacing lines on the south side of Cantrell, the Public Works Department decided to widen the sidewalk in front of ECS. 

Why not route the trail in the gap between the railroad bridge on La Harpe and the passage beneath the Cantrell viaduct around the back side of Episcopal Cathedral School on the south side of Cantrell?

We looked at that alternative very hard and rejected it for several reasons: 1. When we costed it out, it turns out to be more expensive than the more desirous option of going along the river. 2. Everyone felt it would be optimal not to have to cross Cantrell if we could avoid it. 3. The path for a trail on the back side of ECS as it turns north to go under the viaduct is extremely narrow as there is a ravine /watershed on the western border. Extensive dirt work or bracing would have to be done, if various approvals could be obtained. We have extensive engineering plans near completion for the north side and I am hopeful to get a resolution one way or the other by the end of summer.

JBar turned pessimistic April 3 after reporting hopefully on April 1 (update: note the date to see the humor) that Stodola would achieve the grander plan, perhaps with help from the Walton Family Foundation. . Co-operation from Dillard's remains an issue (just as resistance by the Stephens family, which underwrote the Episcopal school, has discouraged condemnation of right of way around that property for the trail.)

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