Trail­head planned at Ri­or­dan

The Weekly Vista - - News - KEITH BRYANT

More de­tails have been re­vealed about the planned trail­head along­side Ri­or­dan Road.

The trail­head will be lo­cated near the base of a hill, just west of the road’s in­ter­sec­tion with U.S. High­way 71, to pro­vide ac­cess for the pro­posed soft-sur­face trails on the west side of the high­way and, po­ten­tially, a north­ern ex­ten­sion of the Ra­zor­back Green­way.

Chris Sune­son, direc­tor of the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Ser­vices Depart­ment, said this project is ben­e­fit­ing more than trail users.

“The Ri­or­dan Road trail­head project is re­ally a hit on two fronts,” he said.

The plan, he said, is to have a park­ing lot near a tun­nel, which will es­sen­tially be an eight-foot by eight-foot box cul­vert run­ning un­der Ri­or­dan Road. That cul­vert, he said, will re­place a drainage pipe that has proved too nar­row for the vol­ume of wa­ter that rolls down­hill dur­ing sub­stan­tial rain events.

In a ma­jor rain event, he said, it isn’t un­com­mon for wa­ter to roll over Ri­or­dan Road, of­ten re­sult­ing in sin­gle-lane traf­fic or clo­sure of the road.

The amount of wa­ter, he said, is the re­sult of a roughly 20-acre wa­ter­shed feed­ing into that one point.

“That wa­ter­shed goes all the way up to Old­ham,” he said.

The pri­mary chal­lenge, he said, is get­ting ap­proval from the Arkansas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. The trail­head needs to be built in 2018 in case the new trail sys­tem starts go­ing in soon, he said, and get­ting that ap­proval in time may prove dif­fi­cult.

The project, he said, is ex­pected to cost roughly $295,000. Of that, he said, $236,000 will be cov­ered by a fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram grant, while the re­main­der, ap­prox­i­mately $60,000, will be cov­ered by the city.

With this cul­vert — which needs to be tall enough to ac­com­mo­date peo­ple on bikes — Sune­son said there should be plenty of space for wa­ter to flow.

It will also sep­a­rate cy­clists and hik­ers ac­cess­ing trails from driv­ers on the road, he said, which should prove safer.

“We’re do­ing it with trail users in mind, but we’re also solv­ing a prob­lem,” Sune­son said. “If I can build this to solve this, that’s a big win for ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic and, again, bi­cy­clist safety.”

Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista

A drainage pipe that runs un­der Ri­or­dan Road. This pipe is ex­pected to be re­placed with a box cul­vert for the Ri­or­dan trail­head project, which will al­low for bet­ter drainage and pro­vide trail ac­cess.

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