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