A North Little Rock engineering firm has been chosen to begin design on the Southwest Trail, a 67 mile biking and walking path that will connect Hot Springs and Little Rock. Garver LLC will begin the preliminary design, which is also called the “65 percent” design.
Garver has previous experience designing a bike trail developing the $1.4 million Frisco Trail in Fayetteville Arkansas. The engineering firm is also responsible for the recent replacement of the Broadway Bridge, connecting downtown North Little Rock and Little Rock.
"The Garver firm is well suited to manage and will ensure the Southwest Trail is completed in a timely and efficient manner," said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde during a news conference. "As the Southwest Trail begins to take shape I'm honored to have my friends in Saline and Garland counties in my corner and excited to have Garver at the helm."
An exact path for the trail has not been determined, but it’s expected that much of it will run in places that once had railroad tracks. Hyde called the Southwest Trail “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for the counties that will be traversed, bringing visitors to the area and serving as an economic engine.
The trail, "once completed, will put Pualski, Saline, and Garland Counties on every outdoor enthusiast list of places to go and places they want to be," says Hyde. "For the last several years we've worked together to secure funding and support the Southwest Trail, with the knowledge that it will have a lasting impact on your communities and benefit millions of people by providing an economic boost to area business."
Part of those funds come from Metroplan, an organization that develops transportation plans for central Arkansas. It awarded Pulaski and Saline counties $260,000 each last month with the agreement that each county would put forward a minimum of 20 percent of the awarded Metroplan amount which is $52,000. In total the design cost of the Southwest Trail is estimated at $4 million.
Luke McCoy, who represents the 12th district on the Pulaski County Quorum Court and voted against the Southwest Trail last summer, told KUAR in an email:
"While I did oppose it, I hope nothing for the best. In fact, if it works out well, I don't mind eating my own words. My main concerns were that it seemed we were getting the "cart before the horse" concerning the funding and design. The NW AR trail I'm told, with a large cash infusion from the Walton Foundation and possibly other private gifts, got a lot of funding/financial commitments before resources were put into a specific design."