BELLA VISTA, Ark. — This community on the Missouri border celebrated an extension of the Razorback Regional Greenway bicycle trail on Saturday with a ribbon cutting, bike parade, food trucks and a ride.
"This is a momentous occasion for Bella Vista," said Mayor Peter Christie.
The Razorback Regional Greenway is a hard-surfaced trail open to pedestrians and cyslists. It extends now 37.6 miles from Bella Vista to Fayetteville and connects seven cities and many of the major attractions in Northwest Arkansas, including popular mountain biking areas.
The extension moving north from Lake Bella Vista, though only a half-mile long, is the first of several new projects planned for the trail, Christie said, and gets it one step close to Southwest Missouri.
"What you are riding on today is only the beginning," Christie added.
One long-term goal is to extend the trail into McDonald County, which is considered part of the Northwest Arkansas metropolitan area by planners and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Public meetings have been held in McDonald County to explore the possibility of bringing the Razorback into Missouri.
"My friend Gregg (Sweeten), who is the mayor of Pineville (Missouri), is already working with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission and he's planning his trails in anticipation of linking up with our trail," Christie said. "So this is long-term and huge. This is the beginning."
Tim Conklin, assistant director of the regional planning commission, added: "Communities are working to plan those (trails) and build those key connections also."
Conklin also said he was grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for its donations toward the trail system.
"The Walton Family Foundation has just been key to getting these projects moving forward and advanced in their clear, generous grant making to the communities throughout Northwest Arkansas," he said. "It is very beneficial, and the results of it are very popular as you can tell from today, there are a number of people using it."
Ride the Razorback
The Razorback Regional Greenway opened in May 2015, and the portion of the trail at Lake Bella Vista averages 18,000 trail users each month, according to the City of Bella Vista.