Garver LLC, an engineering firm from North Little Rock, has been chosen to do the preliminary design on a new 67-mile biking and walking path that will connect Hot Springs and its north-eastern neighbor, Little Rock. The preliminary design is called the “65 percent design.”
Part of the preliminary design by Garver will include the Old River Bridge, built in 1891 to provide a crossing over the Saline River. The firm will also conduct an environmental assessment as the first step of the project.
“Preliminary design is not a 100-percent completed design,” said Wallace Smith, vice president and director of federal services for Garver. “Rather, it’s enough to know exactly where the trail will go and information like how many bridges are involved and how many right-of-ways are necessary to begin construction.”
Garver was also responsible for the design that developed the $1.4 million Frisco trail in Fayetteville, Arkansas and for the recent replacement of the Broadway Bridge, connecting downtown North Little Rock and Little Rock.
“The Garver firm is well-suited to manage and will ensure the Southwest Trail is completed in a timely and efficient manner,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde in a news conference announcing the awarding of the contract. “As the Southwest Trail begins to take shape, I’m honored to have my friends in Saline and Garland counties in my corner and excited to have Garver at the helm.”
The Southwest Trail was a longtime goal of Central Arkansas outdoor enthusiasts and will span from the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site to Hot Springs National Park. When complete, it will pass through the three counties and travelers will be greeted with trailhead identifications, mile markers, and maps to chart progress and information kiosks.
In order to fund the project, a $2.65 million federal lands access program grant will be tapped, plus a 20-percent local math requirement to be paid by the three counties. The counties have also acquired other funding and are still pursuing additional money.