The American Society of Landscape Architects Central States recently awarded planning firm Crafton Tull a merit award for its 113-page U.S. Bike Route 80 feasibility study, competing with 100 submissions from eight states. The bicycle route, which connects central Arkansas to the Tennessee border, covers 177 miles of rural byways. UAMS’ State Physical Activity and Nutrition grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated on the study, evaluating towns along two proposed routes to see which one offered safer and better amenities for long-distance cycling.
The route starts in North Little Rock and meanders through England, Stuttgart, Clarendon, Marianna, Hughes, winding up in West Memphis. It was officially designated as U.S. Bike Route 80 in late 2022 by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
A team made of up of Crafton Tull, SPAN, Arkansas Department of Transportation, Metroplan and Arkansas Department of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Heritage began the feasibility study in 2018. The group made notes of city amenities such as health clinics, bike repair stations and cultural attractions which bicyclists would have interest in. They also kept notes on safety issues such as traffic volume, lane and shoulder widths.
The US Bike Route System is a national network of bicycle routes connecting urban and rural communities with signed roads and trails. U.S. Bicycle Routes direct bicyclists to a route through a city, county or state with new routes added each year. The U.S. Bike Route 80 will pull in more dollars from tourism and help economic development with the official designation.
Crafton Tull also won an award in 2021 from the American Planning Association’s Arkansas Chapter for “achievement in comprehensive plan design.”