Friday October 26, marked the opening of a new section of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway. The new portion of the trail connects north Bentonville to the “Bridge to the Future” near Exit 82 in south Rogers. The exciting ceremony marked an important step towards the completion of a 36-mile paved mixed use trail that will stretch from Bella Vista to Fayetteville, which is scheduled to be competed by the end of next year.
When complete, the 36-mile trail will provide access to many local amenities, schools and businesses. John McLarty, Assistant Director, Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, states that “The Razorback Regional Greenway will connect 23 schools, large employment centers, retail centers, the University of Arkansas, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.”
The ribbon cutting events began with a welcome from Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin on the Bentonville Square, who thanked the community for its tremendous support for the Razorback Regional Greenway that connects six cities across two counties, and challenged everyone to “make the trails part of their daily life.” A group of 100 cyclists led by Mayor McCaslin and 40 students from Lincoln Junior High School then biked down the Greenway to Rogers, where they were greeted by Rogers Mayor Greg Hines, who officially declared the bridge in south Rogers as the “Bridge to the Future.”
The morning’s celebration also introduced the public to EnergizeNWA, Endeavor Foundation’s new healthy living initiative. “We’re connecting community leaders and coordinating efforts dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice, and the Greenway makes it easy to be active,” said Anita Scism, President/CEO, Endeavor Foundation. “Today’s Greenway celebration certainly Energizes Northwest Arkansas, and we look forward to celebrating with the community as the rest of the trails open.”
The Razorback Regional Greenway is being funded in part through a federal TIGER II (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant of $15 million. The grant required a 20% match, which was supported in full by the Walton Family Foundation. The federally funded portion of the Greenway is 16 miles, extending from Rogers, through Lowell and Springdale, and ending at Lake Fayetteville. The project has been a goal of regional planners, cities and residents of Northwest Arkansas for more than two decades. Cities outside of the current project design are already exploring ways to connect to the spine of the trail.