The city of Conway recently received a $178,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to lengthen the current Stone Dam Creek Trail.
Bobby M. Kelly III, spokesman for the city, spoke with the Log Cabin Democrat on Thursday regarding the trail’s future plans.
Kelly said the department does have to further study the area.
“Eventually, what we want to do is really take that trail … it’s going to connect really to South German,” he said.
Right now, Kelly said, the trail is pretty short and ends at Dave Ward Drive, without a way to cross over the busy intersection. The city is in the process of building a 14-foot pedestrian bridge to do just that.
“It’ll make more sense why [the bridge] is being put there,” he said.
Kelly said there are two main points he can think of why they are walking out these two projects.
The first, he said, is about extending Conway’s trail network. The second is all about safety.
Not only will the new pedestrian bridge and trail expansion connect all the neighborhoods off South Donaghey and beyond to the University of Central Arkansas, Kelly said, but it will allow safe passage for all, including pedestrians who are forced to take on the busy roadway.
“Fifty thousand cars drive down Dave Ward on a daily basis,” he said.
Kelly said he remembers being a student at UCA and having to cross that intersection for classes.
“It’s scary,” he said.
Kelly said they’ve made plenty of improvements to the crosswalk area, but the pedestrian bridge will be a safer option.
Overall, he said, the new addition is a priority for many reasons.
“This is going to help out tremendously,” Kelly said.
The city council originally appropriated $386,296 for the design-phase of the project with Garver Engineers back in April 2017.
The project is expected to cost around $2 million overall.
While crews have been working on opposite sides of the street, Dave Ward drivers may have noticed the addition of two trusses this week to the area, waiting to the connect one side to the other.
Kelly said the bridge incorporates new engineering techniques as well, increasing safety benefits.
“This thing is going to be solid,” he said.
Kelly said crews should be able to tackle putting the trusses in place over the next couple of weeks.
While nobody has a definite finish date, he said, they may be looking at around May 2019.