Trail con­struc­tion starts

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

Of­fi­cials from the city and POA came to­gether with trail builders and ad­vo­cates to carve the very first bit of Bella Vista’s new trails — now named 11 Un­der — near the Lake Avalon Beach.

An es­ti­mated 100 peo­ple showed up to see the ground­break­ing.

“What a great day,” Mayor Peter Christie said.

He was im­pressed not only with the crowd but the di­ver­sity in it, he said. There were older re­tirees and younger fam­i­lies alike, he said.

Erin Rush­ing, di­rec­tor of NWA Trail­blaz­ers, said he saw roughly twice as many peo­ple as he ex­pected.

“It makes me re­ally happy,” he said.

Rush­ing ex­plained the freshly-se­lected name is a ref­er­ence to the in-progress trails’ sig­na­ture fea­ture: 11 tun­nels run­ning be­neath road­ways to keep riders and traf­fic sep­a­rate. But it’s also a nod to the city’s golf­ing her­itage, he said.

Con­struc­tion is ex­pected to start this week, he ex­plained, with Rogue Trails han­dling the por­tions north of Arkansas High­way 340 and Rock Solid Con­tract­ing build­ing the por­tions south of the state high­way.

In ad­di­tion to cut­ting trails, he said, trail builders are us­ing the con­cep­tual map as a guide while they flag where the trails are go­ing to be built.

They’ll be de­cid­ing “what rock it goes by, what tree it goes around,” Rush­ing said. “These guys are artists.”

The fi­nal prod­uct is not likely to match the con­cep­tual plan en­tirely, he said, be­cause what’s fea­si­ble to build may prove dif­fer­ent from the pro­posal.

Phil Penny, owner of Rogue trails, said he’s ex­cited for what’s to come.

“Lots of good stuff in there that we’ve found so far,” he said.

Penny said his firm might have its por­tion done in less than a year.

But with so much trail go­ing in, some are hop­ing for a job.

Hay­den Hess, a trail builder with another firm, said he hopes to get a chance to carve some of the 11 Un­der trails.

“Prob­a­bly be some work for every­body out there,” he said. “I’m ex­cited.”

And out­side of work, Hess rides and has high hopes for the trail sys­tem. He’s trav­eled to ride, he said, and hasn’t seen many ar­eas with Arkansas’ mix of tech­ni­cal and flowy rid­ing.

“The trails around here are top notch,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to rid­ing, the trails will be open to hik­ing.

Bella Vista resident Ann Dahlke said she lives by Blow­ing Springs and en­joys walk­ing in the woods — and she’s been do­ing it longer than there have been pub­lic trails.

“When we first came down here, we made our own trails down by the bluff,” she said.

Dahlke said the trails are a great ad­di­tion to the city and she’s ex­cited to see more be­ing built.

“I think it’s a great im­prove­ment,” she said.

Photo cour­tesy of the city of Bella Vista

Tom Jud­son, left in the front row and hold­ing a shovel, hefts some dirt along­side NWA Trail­blaz­ers di­rec­tor Erin Rush­ing, Mayor Peter Christie and Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion pro­gram of­fi­cer Gary Ver­non while of­fi­cials, trail builders, trail ad­vo­cates and en­thu­si­asts stand be­hind them at the 11 Un­der ground­break­ing last Fri­day, Sept. 14, dur­ing which the first bit of trail was cut into the ground.

Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista

Af­ter the trail ground­break­ing, city of­fi­cials, POA of­fi­cials, trail builders, trail ad­vo­cates and oth­ers met at the Bella Vista Bar and Grill to min­gle and dis­cuss the pro­ject.

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