EL DORADO — Work is expected to begin soon on an expansion of the walking/running/bike trail on the north side of town.
Mayor Frank Hash recently apprised the El Dorado Water Utilities of plans to move forward with phase one of the project — which will extend the trail northward. The 2.25-mile trail wraps around Lions Club Municipal Golf Course, the Union County Fairgrounds, and the El Dorado School District soccer fields.
The northward extension will add just under a mile to the existing trail, said Robert Edmonds, director of public works.
He said the addition will extend from the center point of the soccer fields, run along the Ouachita River wastewater pipeline to the EWU’s north wastewater treatment plant and tie back into the existing trail on the northeast edge of the Lions Club property.
“We’ll be doing some grubbing behind the north plant. We need to get with you to get out there and make sure we’re going where we need to go,” Hash said during an El Dorado Water and Sewer Commission meeting late last month.
Edmonds said crews are expected to being clearing the route within the next 10 days, weather permitting.
Estimated costs for the project, which may include some drainage work, are $25,000 - $30,000. The timeline to complete phase one depends on the weather and availability of city crews, Edmonds said.
“It’s kind of going to be infill work for our guys, but we’re going to make it happen as soon as we can,” he said.
Edmonds said bid documents should be ready by the spring for the second phase of the project — another two and a half miles that will extend south along 19th Street to Champagnolle Road and connect to the northeast side of the existing trail like the shorter loop.
Last year, the city was awarded a $500,000, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Arkansas Recreational Trails Program grant to cover the costs of the expansion project.
A grant from the same program was used to get the original trail project off the ground in 2009.
Edmonds said the opportunity exists to add more miles to the trail by extending it east on Champagnolle, across the U.S. 167 bridge and around the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex.
Such an expansion would fit into a master bike/pedestrian plan that is under development to help improve connectivity in the city.
Crafton Tull and Associates, Inc., of Little Rock, is preparing the plan.
A preliminary draft that was presented in December outlined a 55-mile network that zigzags the entire city and comprises several on-road and off-road facility types, such as multi-use trails and bike lanes, that connect destinations around El Dorado.
“There’s definitely some growth potential there. People use the path that’s out there now all the time,” Edmonds said.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.