The Harahan Bridge Opens


History is being made today as the bicycle/pedestrian boardwalk, a.k.a. the Big River Crossing, opens along the Harahan Bridge. Just two years ago the first shared-use trail connection across city boundaries was completed in our region (the Wolf River Greenway), and now we’re crossing state boundaries as well as America’s greatest river.

A common question raised by observers ever since the project was announced in 2010 has been something to the effect of, “What’s there to go to on the Arkansas side?” Before we get to that question, I can assure you after a sneak peak visit last week that the bridge will be a destination onto itself. The boardwalk provides unobstructed views of Memphis, the Mississippi, and the Arkansas Delta that most Memphians have likely never taken in. In short, the Big River Crossing will literally allow us to see our home from a new perspective.

As for the Arkansas side, planners and boosters have been hard at work to ensure that a trip across from the east doesn’t need to or should end at the foot of the bridge. The City of West Memphis intends to construct an “Eco-Park” in the current farmland between I-55 and I-40. Imagine hiking and biking trails, natural and historical interpretive opportunities, a small amphitheater, and perhaps camping along the riverbank. The designs are still a work in progress, but the result will undoubtedly be a new amenity. And then there’s the levee trail that links to the new greenway extending into West Memphis. An effort of the Big River Strategic Initiative, the levee trail currently stretches to Marianna, Arkansas, but will one day reach as far as south New Orleans and perhaps as far north as St. Louis. Of course, there’s also West Memphis itself, with a collection of underrated barbeque joints, historic Broadway Avenue, and other surprises awaiting those who venture past the bridge.

I could go on, but why not just see for yourself?

Go here to see to the schedule of today’s festivities:

Big River Crossing Opening

And here are two group bike rides being led to the bridge later in the afternoon:

Revolutions Bicycle CoOp at 4:00

Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club at 4:00


In Case You missed It: Shelby Farms Greenline Bridge Follow-Up


First of all, thank you to the more than 50 citizens who attended the City’s public meeting on Tuesday evening! Furthermore, thank you to the approximately 50 additional people who either attended our meeting Monday night or dropped by the open design studio during the day Tuesday!

Those who attended were the first in Memphis to glimpse conceptual designs for an iconic bridge and trail extension that will push the Greenline into Midtown. If you weren’t able to attend, or didn’t hear about the meetings in time, below are presentation slides shown at the meeting.

For the overview presentation: Click Here

For the design presentation: Click Here

You can still provide input on the project by downloading this questionnaire, filling it out, and submitting it no later than November 1, 2016. Submission instructions on are the second page of the form. All completed questionnaires will be entered into the official record for this project.


Now, if you’d like some more food for thought about this project, stay with me for a minute, because while this 0.6-mile trail extension is short in actual distance, it spans a wide symbolic gap.

A common complaint heard from citizens is the current hardship faced when trying to cross the Poplar Avenue or Union Avenue corridors on foot or by bike. This project will provide a direct connection across this west-east axis completely separated from automobile traffic. What’s more, it will extend one of the region’s most popular bicycle/pedestrian paths, the Shelby Farms Greenline, and link up with the planned Hampline cycle track through Binghampton, Broad Avenue, and into Overton Park. Construction on the Hampline will start next spring.

Of greater symbolism, though, is what the project site represents. Nearly 100 years ago, the Poplar Avenue and Union Avenue viaducts were constructed and allowed Memphis to expand eastwards, beyond the Parkways, and into what we now know as East Memphis. These two viaducts facilitated the advent of suburban-style development in Memphis, as well as the migration of residents out of the urban core. Now in 2016, the City intends to build a new bridge between the two viaducts that not only represent a desire to better connect suburban areas back to the urban core, but also forgoes cars altogether. Memphis seems to be coming full circle, and perhaps in another 100 years residents will point to this bridge as a landmark to the era when the city launched another transformation of itself.

If that’s not symbolic enough for you, consider that this bridge will act as the iconic crown of the Shelby Farms Greenline — a catalytic project that led to more focus on walking and biking in Memphis.

Lastly, if you’re wondering what happens with the Greenline beyond Flicker Street, rest assured that the City envisions a bicycle/pedestrian connection somehow extending into Tobey Park, the Fairgrounds, and possibly beyond. Those segments are not within the scope of this project, however, and will be addressed at a later date.

Bike Ped Memphis will continue to provide updates on this project as it progresses.