The Chadwick Flyer Trail runs roughly 12 miles between Sunshine Street in Springfield and the Ozark Community Center in Ozark. It is seen here running along the west side of North 22nd Street in Ozark.(Photo by Shannon Cay)

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By Makayla Malachowski, for the Hauxeda

The City of Ozark will begin construction for Phase 2 of the Chadwick Flyer Trail project in May. Phase 2 will create a trail segment around the Tracker Marine property, located at 3630 N. 21st St. in Ozark. 

Jeremy Parsons, public works director for the city of Ozark, said the plans for Phases 4 and 5 — which will create a bridge over U.S. Highway 65 and connect the bridge to the Tracker Marine trail segment — are still in design, but their target date for construction is November 2024 with completion dates in 2025. Phases 1 and 3, which connect Clay Street in Ozark and the Ozark Community Center and Kissick Avenue in Springfield to the Christian County line, respectively, have already been built.

The Chadwick Flyer Trail project first came to life in 2017, when the trail was first identified as a key component of the Trail Investment Study conducted by the Ozark Transportation Organization. Though the project didn’t start until 2017, Parsons said the idea for the trail was present as early as 2016, when the Ozark Board of Aldermen visited northwest Arkansas and met with leaders behind the Razorback Trail. Their visit became the catalyst for the Springfield-to-Ozark trail project. 

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including a 3/8-cent transportation sales tax in Ozark in 2017, funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and donations. Parsons said the initial transportation sales tax in 2017 was renewed in 2022, and that Ozark voters were “very supportive” of the measure. 

The Chadwick Flyer Trail focuses on the roughly 12 miles between Sunshine Street in Springfield and the Ozark Community Center in Ozark. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

“One of our missions in that transportation sales tax was that we were going to dedicate, at minimum, 10% of the transportation sales tax toward trails, sidewalks, anything pedestrian related,” Parsons said. “It’s an investment — not just in our community and not in an economic development sense — but it’s an investment in quality of life, and just making sure that we’re the type of community where people want to come.”

Efforts are focused on connecting Ozark to Springfield, as well as neighboring cities like Nixa. Parsons said it seems as though “the stars have aligned” for the Chadwick Flyer, and he hopes the positive momentum can continue.

On Feb. 20, Ozark Greenways held an open house forum for people to learn more about and comment on the proposed project for Kissick Avenue in Springfield. Sara Fields, director of the Ozarks Transportation Organization, said she has not yet reviewed the comments from the open house, but says there is positive energy about the project from those who attended. 

“I think that there are people interested in seeing the property maintained better than what it is now,” Fields said. “Just a sense of quality of place to actually be used.”

As for the major goals of the project, Parsons said he wants the trail system to appear as an “open air museum” for those who visit it.

“I want people to learn about the Ozarks, the history and the culture, as they’re walking the trail,” Parsons said.

Projects of this caliber take a lot of time to complete, from planning and design all the way to when the trails are open for public use. Fields added that even though it may take some time for construction on the Chadwick Flyer to wrap up, work seems to be moving pretty quickly. 

“From a project that was just first identified in 2017, to have so much progress six years later, it has been amazing to see (the project) unfold and progress,” Fields said.

Aside from the construction, the city of Ozark has created an interactive map for those interested in keeping up with the Chadwick Flyer trail project. For more information about the project, visit the interactive map or the Ozark Greenways website.

The switchbacks at Ozark's Finley River Greenway at the Ozark Community Center are considered part of the Chadwick Flyer Trail. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

This story is made possible by the Hauxeda’s partnership with students studying public affairs reporting in the Department of Communication, Media, Journalism and Film in the Missouri State University School of Communication. Student reporters work under the direction of Missouri State University senior instructor Jack Dimond.