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New Project Will Connect Midtown to Shelby Farms Greenline

Conceptual rendering of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over East Parkway, which could be one tentative route of the new Shelby Farms Greenline Midtown Connector project (Image Credit: Memphis MPO/Alta Planning + Design).

We’ll soon be taking the first steps to connect Midtown with the Shelby Farms Greenline thanks to a successful application for Federal transportation grant funds. The Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has awarded the City a $200,000 grant to complete an alternatives analysis and preliminary engineering on the Shelby Farms Greenline Midtown Connector project.

The Connector will establish a high-comfort bicycle and pedestrian route for all ages and abilities from Cooper St. in Midtown to the north end of Flicker St. at Union Avenue. The City is already progressing on a separate western extension of the Greenline that will bring the path from its current terminus at Tillman St. to Flicker St. via a bridge over the adjacent railroad lines. That new segment will begin construction in 12-18 months, with the Greenline Midtown Connector likely to start construction a year later.

An exact route for the Connector from Cooper St. to Flicker St. will be determined through an alternatives analysis that will rank potential routes based on various criteria, including input from residents and stakeholders collected through an extensive outreach process. The analysis will consider potential routes within an area roughly bounded by Cooper St., Central Ave., Flicker St., and Vinton Ave./Avery Ave., as seen in the map below. The analysis should commence by this fall.

The various alternative routes between Cooper St. and Flicker St. to be identified and analyzed will be within the area highlighted red. The analysis will select a final route to proceed to preliminary engineering and design.

The final route will likely consist of both on-street and off-street segments. Conceptual renderings of possible segments are shown below and at the top of the post. In some places, such as a potential crossing of East Parkway, a separated off-street path may be pursued. Along other potential segments on neighborhood streets, we will consider a design concept known a “neighborhood greenway” or “bicycle boulevard.” While this would be the first application of a neighborhood greenway in Memphis, the concept has been successfully used in other cities. Neighborhood greenways use various traffic calming devices to slow vehicular traffic on a street, and prioritize the movement of people on foot and bicycles.

Rendering of a neighborhood greenway or bicycle boulevard concept, which calms motorized traffic along neighborhood streets and creates a low-stress, high-comfort corridor for walking and bicycling (Image Credit: Memphis MPO/Alta Planning + Design).

We refer to the Shelby Farms Greenline Midtown Connector as “the last mile” in a continuous path from Downtown to the eastern edge of Cordova. To the east, the Greenline is already built or has segments nearing construction. To the west, MLK Avenue has already received protected bike lanes, and Peabody Ave. will receive buffered bike lanes when the street is resurfaced later this year. This one-mile gap between Cooper and Flicker is the last piece of a 19-mile corridor to figure out.

The MPO recognized the value of the Greenline Midtown Connector even before awarding the grant by listing it as a “Catalyst Project” in its recently completed Walk & Roll: Regional Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.

The City will pursue additional funding to develop construction documents and cover construction costs for the Connector.

In addition to the Greenline Midtown Connector project, the MPO awarded two other grants to the City. One will fund the construction phase of the Range Line Rd. Sidewalk project ($375,000). The other will fund construction of the Hanley Elementary School Pedestrian Safety project ($530,000). The grant funding is through the Federal Transportation Alternatives program, which is limited to projects that support walking, bicycling, or access to transit. Each grant requires a 20% match from the City.