Jonesboro Children’s Trail
With the Jonesboro Children’s Trail, the city will link War Memorial Park and Little Rock Zoo to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center (children’s library) and to the community south of I-630, creating thus a “children’s zone” (Fig. 1). On a larger spatial scale, the project will connect the cycling network south of I-630 to the cycling network north of I-630, including the Arkansas River Trail and downtown, a project that will literally unite Little Rock and address some of the scars left by I-630 (Fig. 2).
Figure 1. The “Children’s Zone” concept will include a all ages and abilities connection between (left to right) the War Memorial Splashpad, Little Rock Zoo, Children’s Library and new opportunities in the revamped War Memorial Park (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
Figure 2. There is an emerging connected bicycle network south of I-630 and a growing bicycle network north of I-630, but these two networks have few connections between them. The Jonesboro Project is a critical connection between these networks and #UniteLR.
We will reuse the Jonesboro Dr. West Fork from 12th Street to the split just south of I-630 for bikes and pedestrians only (Fig. 3). The corridor will continue as a physically separate side path over the Jonesboro Viaduct and on the left side of Monroe Street to the bike paths on Zoo Dr. (Fig. 3). More details below.
Figure 3. The Jonesboro Kids’ Trail will create a side path for all ages and abilities from 12th Street to Zoo Dr.
12th Street Entrance
Since vehicles will travel differently in this corridor, we want to make sure there is no ambiguity about where people are entering. There will be several changes at the Jonesboro / 12th St. intersection to help everyone get around safely and efficiently.
West Fork: The west fork will be completely different. The curb and the gutter will replace the current entrance, physically preventing access to vehicles (Fig. 4). An arch will create a gateway to the children’s area (Fig. 5).
East Fork: The fork will now accommodate traffic in both directions. The mouth of Jonesboro on 12th Street will be widened to allow large vehicles to enter without conflict. A traffic light with crosswalks will allow safe crossing of 12th Street for cyclists and pedestrians. This is particularly relevant for equitable access and the larger cycling network (see below).
Figure 4. Reconfigured vehicle entrance to Jonesboro from 12th Street (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
Figure 5. Jonesboro Children’s Trail 12th Street entrance. Notice the front door to the children’s area (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
12th street at the viaduct
The street will be transformed into a cycle and pedestrian path (Fig. 6). We will put in place lighting to make the hallway safer and more comfortable. Other place creation elements can also be added. A secure connection between the Jonesboro Children’s Trail and the children’s library will be an important point (Fig. 7).
Figure 6. Lighting and other elements between 12th Street and the overpass will help create a comfortable hallway.
Figure 7. Connecting the Jonesboro Children’s Trail to the Children’s Library is central to the goal of the project.
Place-making elements on the overpass will serve trail users, but will also advertise the Town of Little Rock and War Memorial Park amenities (Figures 8-10).
Figure 8. Aerial concept of the Jonesboro Children’s Trail along the I-630 viaduct (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
Graph 9. 3D aerial concept of the Jonesboro Children’s Trail along the I-630 viaduct (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
Figure 10. 3D concept of the Jonesboro Children’s Trail on the I-630 viaduct (image by Polk Stanley Wilcox).
This project is the result of grassroots efforts. The Children’s library was concerned about safe and equitable access; Jonesboro has no sidewalks and excessive traffic and 12e St. is a high traffic / speed street. CAL in partnership with CLR Parks and got a Safe Routes to Parks Grant. They created a coalition, gathered feedback from the community, created a Pop-up demonstration of BikePed installations on Jonesboro, and hired Polk Stanley Wilcox / McClelland Engineering to lay the groundwork for this application (summary report).
The CALS Annual Report 2020 summarizes the project as follows:
“With the support of 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 have teamed up to overcome the racial and physical divide to to reconnect the children’s library district, a predominantly black neighborhood, with War Memorial Park. “