COMMERCIAL APPEAL | THOMAS CHARLIER
One hundred years to the day after the opening of the Harahan Bridge — and barely three months from the scheduled completion of a bicycle-pedestrian boardwalk on the span — virtual tours of the project became available to the public Thursday.
The public relations and advertising firm hired to develop the brand for the boardwalk launched a website featuring drone footage, a 360-degree video images, a slideshow and links to videos on the history of the Mississippi River span and a Facebook page on the project.
Nearly a mile in length and costing $17 million, the boardwalk is the centerpiece of the $40 million Main to Main Intermodal Connector Project, will help link the downtowns of Memphis and West Memphis. It also will connect trail systems on the Tennessee side with bicycle routes along levees and paths through a park on the Arkansas side.
A grand opening for the boardwalk is set for Oct. 22.
"There's such a pent-up interest in the bridge, not only in Memphis, but regionally and nationwide, even internationally, that we wanted to create enough lead time for travelers ...," said Doug Carpenter, principal of Doug Carpenter & Associates.
DCA is developing the brand for both the Big River Crossing, the name for the boardwalk, and the Delta Regional River Park, which is being established near the west end of the bridge in Arkansas.
As the grand opening approaches, the website will provide information on events planned as part of the celebration.
The Harahan opened July 14, 1916, nearly a quarter century after the completion of the adjacent Frisco Bridge, the first steel span across the Lower Mississippi. Unlike the Frisco, the Harahan was a multi-rail bridge, and it also accommodated lanes for motor vehicles on cantilevered decks.
Car and truck traffic on the span was shut down when the nearby Memphis & Arkansas Bridge opened in 1949.
The boardwalk is being installed on the north cantilevered deck, which provides unobstructed views of Downtown Memphis.
"For decades, some of the most iconic images of our city have been our bridges," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in a prepared statement this week. "This extraordinarily generous plan will make them even more iconic. The addition of the lighting on these bridges will be a major positive step in activating one of our most unique assets, the Mississippi River."