Central Library Pedestrian Access Starts Construction

Contractors for City Engineering have started construction on an enhanced pedestrian crossing located on Poplar Avenue in front of the Central Library.

The improvements will comprise one of the first capital improvement projects undertaken by the City in recent years specifically to improve pedestrian safety at a known high-risk spot. The pair of bus stops at this mid-block location on Poplar Avenue count as some of the most used in the Memphis Area Transit Authority’s system. Many Memphians access the vital resources and information available at the Central Library by bus, and currently must either walk nearly a quarter-mile out of their way to use the nearest signalized crossing or risk an unprotected mid-block crossing. Over the years, multiple serious crashes have occurred as people attempt the latter. As recently as March 2018, a driver struck and killed a gentleman attempting to cross the street at this location.

The project will install a median refuge island, high-visibility crosswalks, and a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon. The refuge island will narrow the crossing distance and safely break up the crossing into two stages. While City code and State law already require drivers to stop for a person crossing at a crosswalk, the flashing beacon will better alert drivers to a pedestrian’s presence.

The project is funded by a Transportation Alternatives grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with a 20 percent local match by the City of Memphis. The construction budget for the project is $98,107.60.

As part of construction, there will be multiple lane closures on Poplar Avenue between Tillman Street and Lafayette Street. Lane closures will mostly be from 9:00 Am to 4:00 Pm on weekdays, with limited overnight closures on weekdays as well. At least two lanes of traffic will be open in each direction at all times. Construction is expected to last approximately three to four weeks, weather dependent.

Overton Park Sidewalk Set for Construction

Overton Park West End Rendering (Credit: Amanda Gillvery)

Construction on the Overton Park Sidewalk Project will start on Monday, April 29, 2019, weather dependent.

The project is a collaborative undertaking by the City of Memphis, Memphis Area Transit Authority, and the Overton Park Conservancy. The improvements will include a new sidewalk on the north side of Poplar Avenue from Kenilworth Place to Veterans Plaza Drive, a curb extension at the northeast corner of Kenilworth Pl. and Poplar Ave., reconstruction of the median island on the north side of the same intersection, and crosswalk enhancements. The goal of the project is to improve safe pedestrian access to Overton Park and the existing bus stops on this segment of Poplar Ave., which are currently inaccessible by people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

Existing Conditions: Currently no accessible path leads to the existing bus stops.

The project originated from a planning process led by the Overton Park Conservancy in 2015 as part of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint & Sustainability Plan, which identified Overton Park as a regional hub for people traveling on foot or on a bicycle. OPC engaged park users and the general public, and developed preliminary designs for the sidewalk based on the input collected.

The project is funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration and administered by MATA. The City of Memphis applied for the grant in coordination with the Overton Park Conservancy. The construction budget for the project is $176,246.16.

Existing Conditions: The lack of an accessible path poses a hazard to people with limited mobility or child strollers.

A later phase will extend the new sidewalk east of Veterans Plaza Drive to a future entrance plaza at Cooper Street. The extension and plaza are currently under design, and should reach construction within the next two years.

Great urban parks provide safe and easy access to all people, no matter how they get around. Through these projects, Overton Park continues to grow more accessible for more Memphians.

As part of construction, the westbound outside lane of Poplar Avenue will be closed from 9:00 Am to 4:00 Pm on weekdays. Construction is expected to last approximately 45 days, weather dependent. The Kenilworth Pl. and Veterans Plaza Dr. entrances into Overton Park will remain open to drivers at all times during construction.

Overton Park Sidewalk East End Rendering (Credit: Amanda Gillvery)