MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The City of Memphis and Crittenden County, Arkansas, are interested in reopening the former roadways on the Harahan Bridge. Not for cars, but for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
In 1917, thousands of cars used the Harahan Bridge to cross the Mississippi River every day. It closed to cars in 1949 when the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge was built. Now a non-profit group in Memphis is leading the way to revitalize the Harahan Bridge.
"It's going to generate a huge amount of interest,” says Greg Maxted, executive director of the Harahan Bridge Project. “A city of 1.2 million, and being right in Downtown Memphis will bring a really, really huge crowd.”
The project will cost $8 million. It's complicated. There are a lot of owners: the city of Memphis, Crittenden County, and Union Pacific Railroad. Not only do project organizers have to make sure everyone agrees on the same vision, but engineers have to make sure it's safe for you.
"They're going to look at the bridge to see if we can do the project first off," says Maxted, "because it's counterintuitive that a bridge full of people is actually heavier than a bridge full of cars, so they have to take that into account. There are also some restrictions the railroad wants us to live with because obviously they have to keep running the trains across it."
The bridge is 14-feet wide and less than a mile long. If all the plans run smoothly, organizers want to open it to bikers and walkers by 2016. The engineering study costs $200,000. The City of Memphis and the organizer of the project, the Aerobics Cruiser Company, are splitting the costs. They say the study will be complete in three months.