Con­struc­tion to be­gin on trail at Chaf­fee Cross­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE HUGHES

FORT SMITH — Con­struc­tion will be­gin soon on a new trail at Chaf­fee Cross­ing that will add an­other link in the city’s grow­ing trail sys­tem.

City di­rec­tors on Tues­day awarded a $1.35 mil­lion con­tract to Steve Beam Con­struc­tion of Fort Smith to build 1.7 miles of paved trail in an ini­tial seg­ment.

The seg­ment will run from Chad Col­ley Boule­vard north­west along Roberts Boule­vard, then con­tinue north­west where Roberts ends onto the Mag­el­lan Pipe­line path­way and con­nect to an ex­ist­ing trail near Mas­sard Road.

An­other leg of the seg­ment, ac­cord­ing to project en­gi­neer Mickle Wag­ner Cole­man, will take off at a 90-de­gree an­gle south­west par­al­lel­ing Wells Lake Road and end at McClure Drive.

Money for the trail will come from a city one-eighth per­cent sales tax for parks, which the city Fi­nance Depart­ment es­ti­mates gen­er­ates more than $2.6 mil­lion a year. The Fort Chaf­fee Re­de­vel­op­ment Author­ity also has pledged to con­trib­ute $500,000 to­ward devel­op­ment of each of the three seg­ments of the project.

Help­ing to pay for the first seg­ment will be a $500,000 Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram grant from the Arkansas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

The sec­ond seg­ment of the project, which the Fort Smith Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment es­ti­mates will cost $750,000, con­sists of ex­tend­ing the first seg­ment from McClure Drive south­west about a mile to Mas­sard Road near the Wells Lake Road in­ter­sec­tion. Work on the sec­ond seg­ment is ex­pected to be­gin in 2020.

A third seg­ment, work on which could be­gin in 2021, is es­ti­mated to run about 4 miles but the route has yet to be de­ter­mined. A parks depart­ment cap­i­tal im­prove­ment plan puts the cost of the seg­ment at $2.1 mil­lion.

“This is a long-term plan that is com­ing to fruition,” said Lorie Robert­son, re­de­vel­op­ment author­ity direc­tor of mar­ket­ing.

With many of the 2,900 homes an­tic­i­pated for Chaf­fee Cross­ing al­ready built, she said, the trails will pro­vide the fam­i­lies liv­ing in and mov­ing to the area with one more amenity to the many out­door ac­tiv­i­ties al­ready avail­able.

“The ad­di­tion of the new trail sec­tion will com­ple­ment the eco­nomic growth and the ac­tive life­style en­vi­ron­ment in that area,” said Casey Millspaugh, chairman of the Fort Smith Parks and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion.

Drew Lin­der, one of the

“The ad­di­tion of the new trail sec­tion will com­ple­ment the eco­nomic growth and the ac­tive life­style en­vi­ron­ment in that area.” — Casey Millspaugh, chairman of the Fort Smith Parks and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion

founders of Friends of Recre­ational Trails, said the Chaf­fee Cross­ing trails will be a sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion be­cause of the amount of devel­op­ment that has oc­curred there.

The Arkansas Col­leges of Health Sciences is open and build­ing its sec­ond med­i­cal col­lege on the cam­pus. Ar­cBest Corp. has moved into its new head­quar­ters at Chaf­fee Cross­ing. Brown­wood Life Care Cen­ter has opened its fa­cil­ity just east of Ar­cBest, and huge swaths of woods of the for­mer Army base land are be­ing cleared monthly for new res­i­den­tial sub­di­vi­sions.

The Chaf­fee Cross­ing trail con­tract is the lat­est in an on­go­ing ef­fort to rid­dle Fort Smith with trails. Millspaugh said other ar­eas of the Arkansas River Val­ley, such as Van Buren, Alma and Green­wood, also are de­vel­op­ing trail plans.

“The vi­sion be­hind the trails plan is to cre­ate a con­tin­u­ous, con­nected trail sys­tem through­out the city that will con­nect peo­ple to dif­fer­ent ar­eas of town,” Millspaugh said.

The plan calls for cir­cling the city with routes to parks and recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties for grow­ing num­bers of bike rid­ers, run­ners and walk­ers.

In Oc­to­ber, the city made the fi­nal pay­ment and ac­cepted com­ple­tion of the 6.3-mile Greg Smith River Trail. It con­sists of a 1.6-mile con­crete trail that runs along the Arkansas River north from Harry E. Kel­ley Park past the new skate/bike park and the U.S. Mar­shals Mu­seum un­der con­struc­tion, and con­nects with a paved 3.1-mile trail atop the Rice-Car­den levee and a 1.3-mile con­crete trail along River­front Drive to Fort Smith Park.

The Rice-Car­den por­tion of the trail cost $1.76 mil­lion, with Friends of Recre­ational Trails con­tribut­ing $550,000. Lin­der said the money from the group was raised from grants, cor­po­rate do­na­tions, in­di­vid­u­als and events such as the Fort Smith Marathon and Ales for Trails.

The city parks depart­ment plans to pro­vide more than $2.5 mil­lion in fund­ing from the eighth-per­cent sales tax to de­velop what is be­ing called the May­branch Trail. It will be­gin at the Greg Smith Trail and go east on North P Street, fol­low­ing the path of new sewer lines be­ing laid as part of work re­quired by the city’s sewer im­prove­ment con­sent de­cree with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and state of Arkansas.

The trail will fol­low the pipe­line path be­cause the city will have al­ready ac­quired the right of way, which will save money for the parks depart­ment, Deputy Direc­tor Sara Deuster said.

She said the trail will fol­low the sewer line path to Martin Luther King Jr. Park at Green­wood Av­enue and North O Street. Fu­ture phases over five years will even­tu­ally take the trail to the Church League ball fields just south of Creek­more Park on Old Green­wood Road. Part of the trail will con­sist of con­vert­ing an old rail­road track bed into part of the trail.

“The May­branch Rail­road Trail will also be a great ad­di­tion,” Lin­der said, “as it will be very ac­ces­si­ble since it runs through the cen­ter of the north side of the city.”

An­other fu­ture trail will be soft trails on more than 300 acres city di­rec­tors pur­chased in Novem­ber from Kansas City South­ern Rail­road. It is lo­cated on the river side of the Rice-Car­den levee next to the Greg Smith trail.

Ac­cord­ing to a Fort Smith memo from Parks Direc­tor Doug Rein­ert, the Friends of Recre­ational Trails and the Fron­tier Ozark Off-Road Cy­clists has com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing the trail and the city will bear none of the cost other than the $103,914 the di­rec­tors voted to pay for the land.

The trail would be open to run­ners, moun­tain bik­ers, walk­ers and pos­si­bly horse­back rid­ers, the memo said.

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