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Arkansas awarded $20.5 million grant to fund completion of Delta Heritage Trail

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Yancopin Bridge over the Arkansas River, which was completed in 1903 by the Memphis, Helena & Louisiana Railway, is one of the bridges that will be modified for bicycle and pedestrian traffic to complete the Delta Heritage Trail in southeast Arkansas.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Arkansas $20.5 million to complete the Delta Heritage Trail in southeast Arkansas. Coupled with a matching donation from the Walton Family Foundation, it will fund work on the final 13.4 mile section of the trail.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the announcement Wednesday.

“This grant will achieve a goal 30 years in the making," Hutchinson said in a news release. "The completion of the Delta Heritage Trail will provide bikers and hikers yet another beautiful view of the Natural State and will highlight the beauty of the Delta."

The trail runs on a former Missouri Pacific Railroad right-of-way and will eventually be 84 miles long, running along scenic areas between Lexa and Arkansas City. The biggest expense will be renovating steel railroad bridges over the Arkansas River and White River.

Arkansas Business reported:

The award is higher than the $13.8 million request the state filed in July, and it triggers a matching $20 million pledge from the Walton Family Foundation. The foundation's gift will be the biggest ever for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

The grant for the 84.5-mile biking-hiking trail was awarded after an unsuccessful attempt to obtain the funds in 2020. It was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Discretionary Grant Program.

The Walton Foundation's grant is tied to completing the project by 2025. It's a key source to help pay for the most expensive parts of the project, which involves modifying railroad bridges for cyclists and pedestrians.

In addition, a 400-foot trestle spanning Hole in the Wall Lake north of the White River will be retrofitted to accommodate bicycle and foot traffic.

Arkansas Business Senior Editor George Waldon has written at length about the project and spoke with KUAR News about what the funding will enable. You can hear his interview above.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Michael Hibblen is News Director of UA Little Rock Public Radio. A 34-year radio veteran, he oversees the KUAR News staff, plans coverage and edits stories while also reporting and anchoring newscasts.
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