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Razorback Regional Greenway
The Razorback Regional Greenway in Northwest Arkansas is a project that has been years in the making. The concept of a regional greenway project has been a goal of regional planners, cities, and residents of Northwest Arkansas for more than two decades. This vision was supported by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission (NWARPC), which in 2000 began a long-range planning process that included regional trails as a key component. A task force formed by the NWARPC conducted public meetings and facilitated a coordinated effort among the communities of Northwest Arkansas.
Early on, the task force identified three historic routes as the potential components for a regional trail: the Butterfield Stage Coach route; Civil War routes; and the Trail of Tears. These were combined with local trails to form what was then called the “Northwest Arkansas Heritage Trail.” The Heritage Trail Plan was adopted as the regional plan for two consecutive MPO long-range transportation plan updates.
This plan would require much of the regional trail to be constructed on roadways, as either a signed route or specially designated on-road facility. As a part of the regional trail update for the 2035 long range plan, discussion focused on an additional off-road system that worked in conjunction with the road-based system.
OFF-ROAD PLANNING BEGINS
The Walton Family Foundation has been active for many years in Northwest Arkansas trail construction. In July 2009, the foundation approved funding up to $15 million in Northwest Arkansas trails subject to a 1-to-1 match from participating cities. In late 2009, it also provided funding to hire a planning and design team with experience in the development of an off-road bicycle, pedestrian and mobility corridor, to provide guidance and set priorities in the overall regional trail development. The team consisted of representatives from Alta Planning + Design, Greenways, Inc., The Greenway Team, Thomas Woiwode, the League of American Bicyclists, and CEI Engineering.
In 2010, the team led a series of community workshops to define the route for an off-road greenway trail that would link together six communities in northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville, Johnson, Springdale, Lowell, Rogers and Bentonville). A series of four planning and design memorandums were produced by the team summarizing the results and findings of the work.