Arkansas Online: W. Memphis to build 5-mile river walkway
A proposed 5-mile walkway along the Mississippi River wetlands will attract more tourism revenue to West Memphis and offer a recruitment tool for industry, officials in the Crittenden County town said.
The city will soon begin developing the Delta River Regional Trail on the eastern end of the city, said West Memphis planner Paul Luker. When completed, the 11-foot-wide trail will connect to a walkway that leads across the Mississippi River on the Interstate 55 Harahan Bridge to Memphis.
It will wind north and pass under the Interstate 40 Hernando DeSoto bridge, using Dacus Lake Road and Robinson Road.
Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the trail when it’s completed, Luker said.
The city awarded a $1.5 million contract for construction, and work should begin by November. Depending on the weather, the project should be completed by the spring, Luker said.
The trail is part of a multiphased program that West Memphis leaders are enacting to attract recreationists and revenue to the city of 26,245.
Luker said plans call for adding wildlife viewing stations along the walkway, which will also provide views of the Memphis skyline. Also planned are interpretive areas for bird-watching and butterfly gardens.
“There is a lot of wildlife in the area,” Luker said. “We want to incorporate those traits in this project.
Luker said city officials want to add to the quality of life in West Memphis, attract more tourism and create more incentives for industrial development.
Director of West Memphis Tourism Jim Jackson said the trail and bridge walkway’s appeal should be international.
On Oct. 22, the Big River Crossing, a 2-mile-long walkway across the Mississippi River aside the Harahan Bridge, will open to the public. Touted “Main to Main Trail,” the bridge walkway will connect Memphis and West Memphis.
The crossing, built by a consortium of Tennessee and Arkansas officials, including highway departments and railroad companies, will be the longest public pedestrian crossing of the Mississippi River in the United States.
The opening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Harahan Bridge.
Jackson said scores of people visiting downtown Memphis will cross the bridge into West Memphis.
“We already know there is an international appeal to the Delta and music,” Jackson said. “There’s Sun Studios and Stax Records and Elvis. They are coming here for the musical heritage. People fly into Memphis to see that, and then go to the Johnny Cash home [in Dyess, in Arkansas’ Mississippi County].
“This will complete that.”
He said the trail view of the Memphis downtown skyline will be new for people on the Arkansas side of the river.
The Delta Regional River Trail will be open 24 hours a day, Jackson said.
Officials will close the Big River Crossing across the Mississippi River each night, but the walkway will be lighted and the span will be lit up, providing a scenic view, he said.
“The lights on the walk will be unbelievable,” he said. “It’ll look like the Golden Gate Bridge.
“It’s a huge project for all of eastern Arkansas.”