City engineers with the Conway Street Department are drawing the plans that will connect two trail segments on the west side of town, completing the 5-mile walking and biking trail that follows Tucker Creek.
As it is, the Tucker Creek Trail sits in two pieces, one beginning at a trailhead at Salem Road and ending behind Walmart on Dave Ward Drive, and the other beginning at Gatlin Park on Tyler Street and ending on Prince Street near Morningside Drive.
Construction on the Gatlin Park to Prince Street extension began in late 2009 and will be completed by mid-September.
According to Brian Knopp, director of Conway Parks Department, the city of Conway has applied for a grant from the Arkansas State Highway Department to connect the segments. The status of the grant will not be known until late December.
Knopp said he hopes construction to piece the two trails together will begin in early 2011.
David Vondran, staff engineer for the Street Department, said the new route has been mapped and most easements have been attained. The trail follows the creek’s floodway closely, Vondran said, to occupy property that is considered undevelopable by landowners.
The trail will cut through one neighborhood, Adamsbrooke, located off of Farris Road.
"We’ve estimated that there are very few property owners affected. There may be 10," Vondran said. "A lot of easement was already dedicated to the project in recent development. Most properties already have dedicated easements."
There could be a future partnership with the Conway Regional Fitness Center, according to Vondran. A portion of the trail will run close to the back of the Center’s property.
"It will be very close to their property," Vondran said. "I don’t want to speak for them but they are big on health and fitness. They have a great runner’s program and they support runners in Conway and there’s a potential to tie in if they choose to do so."
Engineers will cater to the area’s landscape and save as many trees as possible, according to Vondran.
"A good thing about a trail is that you can meander," Vondran said. "You can change the horizontal alignment to minimize the impact on trees. We are definitely doing that."
The exact timing of the final phase’s construction, according to Vondran, depends on Conway Corporation sewer line upgrades.
"One advantage to this portion, is that we will try to coincide with the sewer line upgrades that Conway Corp. is currently undertaking," Vondran said. "This will also minimize the impact on property owners along the creek."
Timing the completion right will provide for cost savings if Conway Corp. heads the clearing work.
"If they do the clearing work it will reduce the scope of our trail project, and hopefully we can take advantage of some cost savings," Vondran said.
The final segment is just under one mile, includes at least one bridge and is ADA compliant.
Knopp said the estimate for the last phase is a little more than $700,000.
"We know we won’t get that much (from the grant), but anything we get will help supplement our cost to it," Knopp said.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)