October 24, 2007 Edition

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Paving to begin on trail

Lewis Slaughter (second, from left), chairman of the Rails to Trails Board, signs a contract with Precision Grading of Paragould as Paul Hoelscher of Stuck Associates (from left), Gunner Bradford of Precision Grading and Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham look on.
TD Photo ~ Amber Adams
Paving is expected to begin in November on the Hoxie end of Rails to Trails, officials working on the project said after a committee meeting on Thursday afternoon.

This includes the first phase of the project, which starts at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in Hoxie and extends northeast for approximately a mile to Compress Road.

Lewis Slaughter, chairman of the Rails to Trails Committee signed a contract with Precision Grading of Paragould to do the paving during Thursday's meeting.

"There is still some surface work to be done, and the county will do that before the paving can begin," said committee member Junior Briner.

The committee has received approximately $34,000 of a $40,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Trails for Life program.

The stone bed, which will be rolled down and crushed by county crews according to Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham, will be approximately 10 feet wide and the paved surface will be about eight feet wide.

"This will really be nice," Slaughter said. He added that the project has potential to be a showpiece that will provide recreational opportunities for residents of Hoxie, Walnut Ridge and outlying areas to walk, jog, run and ride bicycles along once it is completed.

At the head end, near the railroad, committee members want to develop a park, which will include a raised platform for train watchers. In early meetings committee members were considering naming the area Observation Park.

The committee has applied for another $85,000 grant and this week, Slaughter will hand-carry an additional grant application to Little Rock for $40,000 more to go toward completing the Rails to Trails project.

"If we get the $85,000 grant, and I believe we will, we can then complete the grading and paving all the way through Walnut Ridge and on into the county for a bit," Slaughter said. The plan is to take the trails project all the way to College City and the Walnut Ridge Airport Industrial Park.

No motorized traffic will be allowed along the trail. It will be for pedestrian and bicycle traffic only.

Committee members said that the first phase of trail development is expected to be complete in the early spring.

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