LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Leaders in a central Arkansas county have approved a federal grant that will fund 80 percent of the first phase of a project to extend the Arkansas River Trail.

The Pulaski County Quorum Court voted 10-3 Thursday in favor of accepting the $2.7 million grant for the project, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . The grant will require a 20 percent match of $520,000 to be split between Pulaski, Saline and Garland counties.

“Pulaski County needs to be doing everything in its power to create a vision and atmosphere where people and business want to live,” said Democratic Justice of the Peace Tyler Denton. “In this day and age, we cannot afford to miss out on opportunities that can dramatically impact the quality of life for our citizens.”

Last month, the board’s Republican bloc barred the measure. In his objection, Republican member Phil Stowers had said that the county should have infrastructural priorities.

At the board’s recent meeting, Republican members Aaron Robinson and Luke McCoy echoed Stowers argument.

Robinson said there’s no guarantee that the county would continue to receive federal grants for the project’s three phases.

“I’m not saying this is a bad idea. I’m just saying that there are several underlying issues that all need to come together before we start spending taxpayer dollars that pay an engineer,” said Robinson. “We’re not paying for a bike trail, we’re paying for a design for a bike trail.”

McCoy said that he felt that Pulaski County should acquire funding for the project on the front end.

More than a dozen members of the public signed up to speak in favor of the measure Thursday.

The 65-mile hike and bike trail would extend between Little Rock and Hot Springs.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com