Bicycle route issue resolved

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marked bicycle routes aimed at increasing tourism and providing healthy activities for Trumann residents soon will be a reality.

A proposal for the routes presented late last year met with opposition from some Jonesboro residents associated with the NEA Tea Party, who claimed the bicycle routes were part of a "liberal conspiracy" to rid people of vehicles.

While one council member continued to have questions from a constituent during the Trumann City Council meeting Monday, Jan. 10, an ordinance providing for the bicycle routes in and around the city was passed unanimously after a lengthy discussion. The issue was tabled in December to give city officials time to get more information on the proposal.

"The city has purchased signs for bicycle routes after the city council agreed in late 2010 that this is something they wanted for the city," said Trumann Mayor Sheila Walters. "The city needs to present an ordinance showing what we want to do for the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department because of the signage. That is the purpose of this ordinance."

Alderman Bill Francis presented the constituent's questions, with Trumann Chamber of Commerce member Neal Vickers, who has been instrumental in planning of the bike routes for Trumann, addressing Francis' concerns.

Francis first asked about the city's responsibility concerning the routes.

"Basically to maintain signage on existing streets, marking them as bike routes," Vickers said. In response to a second question from Francis, Vickers said no special lighting will be required.

Francis then asked if there will be new jobs for securing and maintaining the routes.

"The signs are put up by the street crew," Walters said. "All we have done is buy signs. We are not creating trails. There are only three routes that are on existing property."

Asked by Francis about the number of cyclists that will use the routes, Vickers responded, "I could not even speculate. From the Chamber's point of view and from someone who was raised here, the purpose of the ordinance was to enhance the lifestyle of the people in Trumann. It's for the community of Trumann. For the city and its attractiveness. Hometown values is our motto. We recognize our role in Northeast Arkansas. One of our goals is to make Trumann a preferred city to live in. We want to do easy things to make this a nice community. This is an easy thing."

Asked by Francis what the federal government has agreed to pay, Vickers added, "We have not pursued federal money for this project. It is out there as an option for the city to pursue though."

The final two questions from Francis, regarding the need for added security or an added tax, also were addressed by Vickers.

"The routes are in the city's limits," Vickers said. "The city will patrol the streets these routes are on. That (the tax question) is up to you on the city council, but I don't foresee a need."

"The only cost to us was these signs, and they are already purchased," Walters added.

The signs were purchased through state turnback funds.

In Trumann, the proposed routes are for newer bicycle enthusiasts to more experienced riders. The routes were presented to the Chamber and to the city council by Vickers during meetings earlier this year.

The yellow or Main Street Route will begin at the Sports Complex on Pecan Grove, go north to Industrial Drive, then right. The rider will follow Industrial across 463 and continue to Ozark Avenue, turn right at Ozark, travel to the underpass at the railroad crossing, turn right and go under the railroad, west on Main Street, continue west on Main across 463 to Commerce Drive, right to cross Highway 69 onto Industrial Drive to Pecan Grove Lane and right to complete the journey back to the sports complex.

The red route is the Old School Route. At the Trumann Public Library, the rider will turn right onto Main Street, travel west to Willow Road, follow Willow to Highway 463, cross the highway to Willow extended, turn right to Third Street, turn left to Whitlatch, right to Richardson to Christy, turn right and travel to Patterson Street, travel Patterson to Pine, turn right onto Pine and follow Pine to Red Light at Main and Highway 463, cross 463 onto Main Street and travel west back to the library.

The blue route is the Dixie Gin Route, which begins at the Sports Complex on Pecan Grove Lane. The rider will go north onto Industrial Drive and turn right, follow Industrial across Highway 463, continue to Ozark Avenue to the railroad overpass by Country Club, go under the railroad tracks, continue to 463, turn right onto 463, travel north to Main Street, turn left to Main Street to Commerce Drive, cross 69 to Industrial Drive, follow Industrial to Pecan Grove Lane and turn right on Pecan Grove Lane to the sports complex.

In other business, the city council:

* passed an ordinance amending the 2010 budget appropriating money for each item of expenditure.

* passed a resolution allowing Floyd Hancock, the husband of City Clerk Marlene Hancock, to work during the 2009 ice storm. Hancock owns a lawn service and had all the necessary equipment for a cleanup of the magnitude of the ice storm.

* passed an ordinance providing for the establishment of a flood damage prevent program for Trumann. This allows the city to be apart of FEMA's flood insurance program. The ordinance is necessary because cities which do not participate are not eligible for federally-backed loans.

* passed a resolution for the continued appointment of Jimmy Gazaway as city attorney.

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