Jonesboro Children's Trail

With the Jonesboro Children's Trail, the City intends to connect War Memorial Park and the Little Rock Zoo with the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library and Learning Center (Children's Library) and the community south of I-630, creating a "Children's Zone" (Fig. 1).  On a larger spatial scale, the project will also connect the bike network south of I-630 to the bike network north of I-630, including to the Arkansas River Trail and downtown (Fig. 2).

Photos visualizing a "children's zone" on Jonesboro.
Figure 1.  The "Children's Zone" concept would include an all ages and abilities connection between (left to right) the War Memorial Splashpad, the Little Rock Zoo, the Children's Library, and new opportunities in the repurposed War Memorial Park (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

Project

We will repurpose the western fork of Jonesboro Dr. from 12th St. to the split just south of I-630 for bikes and pedestrians only (Fig. 2). The corridor will continue a physically separated sidepath over the Jonesboro overpass and on the left side of Monroe St. to the bike lanes on Zoo Dr. (Fig. 3).  More details below.

An aerial photo of Jonesboro with the approximate alignment of the Jonesboro Children's Trail.
Figure 2.  The Jonesboro Children's Trail will create an all ages and abilities sidepath from 12th St. to Zoo Dr.

Figure 3.  This is the placeholder for the PSW concept map from 12th St. to the overpass.

12th Street Entrance:  Since vehicles will move differently in this corridor, we want to make sure there is no ambiguity about where people enter.  There will be several changes to the Jonesboro/12th St. intersection to help everyone move safely and efficiently.

West Fork: The west fork will look completely different.  Curb and gutter will replace the current entrance, physically barring vehicles from entry (Fig. 4).  An arch will create a gateway to the Children's Zone (Fig. 5).  

East Fork:  The east fork will now accommodate two-way vehicular traffic. Jonesboro's mouth onto 12th St. will be widened to allow large vehicles to enter without conflict.  A traffic light with crosswalks will allow safe 12th St. crossing for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  This is particularly relevant for equitable access and the greater bicycle network (see below).

Reconfigured vehicular entrance to Jonesboro from 12th St.
Figure 4.  Reconfigured vehicular entrance to Jonesboro from 12th St. (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

12th St. entrance tothe Jonesboro Children's Trail.
Figure 5.  12th St. entrance to the Jonesboro Children's Trail.  Note the gateway to the Children's Zone (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

 

12th St. to Overpass: We will alter this space as little as possible in the short term.

Main Trail Corridor: The City has proposed to expand the Children's Zone between Jonesboro and Van Buren (Fig. 6).  The timeline for this development, and how this space will be used, has not been finalized.  In order to allow maximum flexibility for future development, and be most prudent with the City and grant agency funds, we intend to remove vehicular access but otherwise leave this as it is in the short term.  Roadway was converted to a bicycle and pedestrian space on the Arkansas River Trail between the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Bridge and works quite nicely.

Connection to Children's Library:  The exception is creating a safe connection between the Jonesboro Children's Trail and the Children's Library.  We will create a 6 ft. wide, concrete sidewalk on the north side of 10th St. and a raised crosswalk with Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (Fig. 6).  We will also remove the portion of 11th St. between the Jonesboro Children's Trail and the S. Jackson St. alignment.

Jonesboro Children's Trail design elements from 12th St. to I-630 overpass.
Figure 6.  Jonesboro Children's Trail design elements between 12th St. and the I-630 overpass.

I-630 Overpass: 

Aerial concept of the Jonesboro Children's Trail on the I-630 overpass
Figure 7.  Aerial concept of the Jonesboro Children's Trail along the I-630 overpass (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

3D concept of the Jonesboro Children's Trail along the I-630 overpass.

Figure 8.  3D aerial concept of the Jonesboro Children's Trail along the I-630 overpass (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

3D view of Jonesboro Children's Trail, from a pedestrian perspective, on the I-630 overpass.
Figure 9.  3D concept of the Jonesboro Children's Trail on the I-630 overpass (image from Polk Stanley Wilcox).

 

Benefits

Regional Bike Network:  Jonesboro Dr. is a critical missing link between existing and upcoming bicycle connectivity.  This project will create linchpin bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from the Tri-Creek Greenway project and the 12th St. bike lanes to the proposed Central Arkansas Regional Greenway east-west corridor through Little Rock and existing facilities leading to Hillcrest, the Heights, and the Arkansas River Trail (Fig. 10).

Map of the impact bicycle and pedestrian connectivity on Jonesboro would have to Little Rock's bike network.
Figure 10.  The City has interconnected bike facilities north of I-630 leading to neighborhoods and the Arkansas River Trail and an emerging network of bike facilities south of I-630, but these two networks are disconnected.  A shared-use sidepath on/along Jonesboro would connect these networks.

Child Safety:

Community Support

This project was the result of grassroots efforts. The Children’s Library was concerned about safe and equitable access; Jonesboro has no sidewalks and speeding traffic and 12th St. is a high traffic volume/speed street. CALS partnered with CLR Parks and secured a Safe Routes to Parks grant. They created a coalition, collected community input, created a Pop Up demonstration of BikePed facilities on Jonesboro, and hired Polk Stanley Wilcox/McClelland Engineering to lay groundwork for this application (summary report).

Pop Up Jonesboro:  In September 2020, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) 

"With support from a Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities grant and technical assistance from the Safe Routes Partnership, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and Little Rock Parks and Recreation partnered to overcome racial and physical division to reconnect the Children’s Library neighborhood, a primarily Black neighborhood, with War Memorial Park."

https://www.littlerock.gov/news/safe-routes-to-parks-program-to-open-temporary-pedestrian-bike-lanes-on-jonesboro-drive/  

https://www.littlerockfamily.com/post/132900/take-a-family-walk-on-the-safe-routes-to-parks-pop-up

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/sep/20/safe-biking-walking-project-aim/ 

https://cals.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2020-annual-report.pdf

https://www.saferoutespartnership.org/blog/innovative-library-and-parks-department-partnership-demonstrates-safer-connections-people-and 

Phases

The Jonesboro Children's Trail will be constructed in phases.  In July 2021, we applied for Metroplan STP funding for Phase One.  Partition of future phases will depend on whether Phase One is funded and the potential scope of future funding opportunities.