A pedestrian and bicycle trail that runs alongside Coleman Creek through the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is now open.
On Monday, local leaders and school officials celebrated completion of the project with a dedication ceremony. The trail links 19th Street on the north side of campus, with Asher Avenue to the south.
A broad coalition of groups and businesses came together to work on the project. UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson also credited Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines for his efforts.
“We opened that Trail of Tears Park almost three years ago and that, along with this wonderful trail that Judge Villines had a major hand in helping to make a reality here, are part of a larger plan to redevelop the entire area that surrounds Coleman Creek,” Anderson said.
Judge Villines, who is retiring at the end of his current term, was honored with a plaque on a park bench alongside the trail, saluting his work in helping to expand parks and trails in the region. He also worked on planning for the Arkansas River Trial, Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Park Bridge, which have proven to be extremely popular.
Last October he was among a group that announced a proposal for a pedestrian and bike trail crossing through three counties, linking the River Trail and Hot Springs.
“If we’re able to, over time, do the Southwest Trail,” Villines said, “people will be flocking here. They already are, but they’ll be coming in numbers you can’t even imagine.”
As UALR has expanded in recent years with more students living on campus, Villines said it’s also vital to provide more ways to get around beyond cars and trucks.
“You just can’t build enough parking spaces for a facility like this, so you have to look at options and one of those options is pedestrian and bicycles and the third option being transit for those who don’t live on campus. So I just think it’s the beginning of something much larger as it extends north or south from here.”