Pulaski, Saline and Garland county officials, including county judges, mayors and chamber of commerce types, came together today to present the possibility of creating a 50-mile bike trail that would link Little Rock with Hot Springs on the old Rock Island line railroad track.
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The idea for the multi-million dollar Southwest Trail project — projected to cost between $17 million and $25 million and require between five to 10 years to build — was presented to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines a year ago by Bobby’s Bike Hike owner Jeremy Lewno, Lawson Baker, Tim McKuin, Brett Budolfson and.Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas vice president Mason Ellis, and, Ellis said, as it happens, Villines and his colleagues to the southwest Lanny Fite of Saline County and Rick Davis of Garland County had been thinking along the same lines, so to speak.
Included in a
handed out were studies by the Arizona Department of Transportation study the Iowa Bicycle Coalition on the economic benefits of bike trails.
Ellis put together the super interactive map of the trail above, which allows you to zoom in on parts of the trail and includes scenic photos. Lewno said the route’s northwestern end would be the River Market, though he said Sherwood and North Little Rock are interested in connections via the Presidential Park Bridge, and the southwestern would be downtown Hot Springs. Hot Springs is independently creating a trail from downtown to Lake Hamilton (the Greenway Trail). The railroad track is in private hands in some places, but Pulaski County owns a large part of the line in the county.
The bike Southwest Trail will roughly parallel the historic Southwest Trail that Americans followed to get to Texas (the reason why they wanted to go to Texas is lost in the sands of time). It doesn’t have to be called the Southwest Trail either, Villines and others said. If you got several million extra dollars and want to support the project, the trail could be named for you.