The Board of Trustees approved a grant proposal this week to fund a project that would create a pedestrian and bicycling overpass across Dave Ward Drive.
This will be another move by the university to expand to include more campus features, and the administration is heading in the right direction.
We’ve all seen the numerous bicyclists and students walking across Dave Ward to classes.
Some of them might live in Bear Village, Centerstone Apartments, houses nearby or have to park across the street. Providing an overpass for people to safely cross over will greatly improve foot and cycling traffic.
The intersections of Donaghey Avenue and Farris Road on Dave Ward are almost always busy throughout the day.
Pedestrian crossings just add to the turmoil of making it to class, not to mention the time-consuming process of waiting for the light.
Dave Ward’s lights seem to run unusually long, but that could be due to anxiety over being late to class.
Aside from easing traffic and providing a safe crossing point, the overpass would connect a trail from the Jewel E. Moore Nature Reserve to one that continues across Dave Ward, not far from the Farris intersection.
This could encourage cyclists to pay more attention to nature reserve trails or provide an easier exercise path for those who prefer outdoor activities.
The nature reserve has been a proud green space for UCA for many years.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been getting as much attention since the HPER expansion.
Though the restorations are no longer blocking one of the reserve’s entrances, it is not as prominent as it once was.
There is a path leading to the entrance, but the HPER overshadows what used to be an extremely visible archway advertising the nature reserve.
With the addition of an overpass, the nature reserve could potentially receive more visitors because of this shiny, new connection to the path.
People who cycle down the path on the opposite side might take interest in the overpass and find a new spot to ride.
The same goes for walkers, runners and joggers. Of course, it will take some time to get this project going, and it’s only in the early stages.
Much depends on funding approval from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), and nothing is certain at this point.
What is certain is the administration is thinking productively and looking for practical improvements to campus.
If a significant amount of grant money comes through, then the only stipulation is UCA providing $100,000 of its own money, which isn’t much for this kind of project.
The Conway City Council has also approved a grant proposal from the city, and it will be a joint project, so the opportunity for more grant money for the project is greater.
These types of projects are taking UCA in a good direction, and for such little money from our pockets.
The $100, 000 contribution may sound like a lot, but it’s really not compared to past projects, especially when increasing safety is a benefit.
If an acceptable grant is awarded, then the administration should do all it can to make this kind of project its top priority.