DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Houston County Commission voted Monday to approve a multi-use transportation study for a trail project that would stretch across the entirety of Houston County.
Being multi-use, the trails would allow citizens to walk, jog, and ride bicycles through the countryside on a paved surface. The idea came from the Northwest Arkansas Greenway, a trail system near Bentonville.
“An interconnected, countywide trail means you would be able to take a scenic bike ride from Wicksburg to Cottonwood and back, for example, without getting on a roadway,” District 4 Commissioner Brandon Shoupe said in an email.
At some point, people can even use these trails to go to work via a bicycle instead of driving through heavy traffic, according to the commissioner.
Shoupe told WDHN over the phone that the project would first look into creating a trail from the area near the intersection of Highway 84 East and the Circle to Ashford. He said the county hopes to split the costs on an 80/20 match, with the county paying 20 percent of costs while the federal government covering the rest.
However, to do so, the county must have a designated project in place, which is why the commission approved the study with a contract with Kim Meeker. The terms of this contract may be adjusted once the commission renews it within six months.
“This is a major step in the right direction,” Shoupe said. “County government has historically been reluctant to directly involve itself with anything that resembles parks and recreation. Times are changing, however. Houston County has to change with it if we are to give young people a reason to want to stay here and if we are going to convince others to want to move here.”
Shoupe said the project would be a “long-time” endeavor, but he hopes the trails reach communities like Wicksburg, Rehobeth, and Columbia once it is finished.