LR gets $1.6 million for River Trail ramp and fix | Arkansas Blog

LR gets $1.6 million for River Trail ramp and fix

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The brown strip indicates the slumping portion of the River Trail, just east of the MoPac Bridge railroad tracks. This aerial view was taken prior to the construction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, just south of the slump.
  • The brown strip indicates the slumping portion of the River Trail, just east of the MoPac Bridge railroad tracks. This aerial view was taken prior to the construction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, just south of the slump.
The city of Little Rock got word today that it will receive $1.6 million in a Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant to build a ramp to the $1.1 million bridge it's building over the railroad tracks at the western end of the Medical Mile, which begins in Riverfront Park and ends at the tracks abutting the Dillard's headquarters. (The bridge is being built with a state grant of $1 million and sales tax revenues.)

The money will also pay to repair the river trail just east of the new bridge, which has been collapsing into the river for a couple of years. John Landosky, the city's bike/pedestrian coordinator, said the slumping area is not actually riverbank but 19th century fill for a railroad bridge. Landosky called it a "ecologic disaster waiting to happen; we have no idea what's under there, like 109-year-old railroad junk." The ramp will go over the slumping area to the new bridge.

In 2009, about 100 feet of the river trail about 300 feet east of the slumping area collapsed. It was filled in 2013 with 5,500 cubic yards of riprap to the tune of $800,000, most of that money from FEMA.

Pulaski County has still not received confirmation that it will receive a FLAP grant to hire engineers to design the 58-mile "Southwest Trail" trail to connect the Central High School National Historic Site with Hot Springs National Park.

County Judge Barry Hyde learned in a conversation at a conference that the application, from Pulaski, Saline and Garland counties, would be approved. On June 17, the county got a letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation that partial funding for phase one of the project proposal had been recommended and would go to the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division for development of a Memorandum of Agreement. (Little Rock went through the same process.)

The county's proposal was for $3.5 million.

The biking and hiking trail, to be built mostly on abandoned railroad beds, has been a dream of bike enthusiasts since 2013. Though called the Southwest Trail now, the name will likely be changed, since the trail will veer from the historic route.

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