Pine Bluff has been awarded $500,000 for its downtown Streetscape project.

The award, announced on Monday, is coming from the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s (ARDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program and Recreational Trails Program for 2018.  Pine Bluff was among several projects awarded money from ARDOT, the agency announced in a press release.

The project will be done in two phases, beginning with a section of Barraque Street between Main and Walnut streets. From there, work will continue south on Main Street down to Eighth Avenue, according to Larry Matthews, director of the city’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

The first phase is expected to take between nine months to one year to complete, he said.

“That is the largest part of the project, phase one,” Matthews said. “The second phase, we don’t anticipate it being that long — probably between six and nine months.”

The project will include new sidewalks, landscaping, including trees, along with other enhancements, as well as new water lines, which Liberty Utilities is handling, Matthews said. The Bradford Pears that currently line Main Street will be uprooted in favor of new trees, Matthews said, adding that he isn’t sure just yet what type of trees they will be.

Project funding

Other than the $500,000 from the ARDOT, the downtown Streetscape project was included in the “Penny for Progress” tax proposal approved by Pine Bluff voters in 2011, with $2 million allocated. The city has also received a $1.35 million grant from the Delta Regional Authority, along with a $1 million grant from the highway department, according to Lori Walker, the assistant director of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.

During the work, Matthews said Main Street will remain open.

“We definitely do not want to disturb businesses along Main, so it will be passable to cars,” he said.

The Transportation Alternatives Program provides funding for programs and projects defined as “transportation alternatives” for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized forms of transportation. It was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. It is a reimbursement-type grant program that provides for an 80 percent federal share and a 20 percent local match from eligible applicants.

Under the TAP program, eligible projects can include construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities that include sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, lighting and other safety-related infrastructure. Conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for pedestrian and bicycle trails is also eligible.

The Recreational Trails Program is funded through a portion of TAP funds set aside specifically for recreational trails. These funds are eligible for maintenance and restoration of existing trails, development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages, and construction of new trails.

For 2018, a total of 30 TAP projects for $8.1 million and 16 RTP projects for $1.6 million were awarded.

A few of the larger TAP projects include the Delta Heritage Trail from Watson to the Arkansas River, phase four of the rehabilitation of the Old River Bridge over the Saline River, and phase four of the Craighead Forest Greenway Trail. RTP projects awarded include an addition to the Veteran’s Park Trail in Decatur, rehabilitation of the Ouachita Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and phase one of the Stone Dam Creek Trail in Conway.