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Levee Board gets lowdown on BRT

Levee Board gets lowdown on BRT


Levee Board gets lowdown on BRT

Trail set to open in October

The Big River Trail planned for the levee top was a hot topic of discussion by the St. Francis Levee District Board during its annual meeting in West Memphis last Tuesday.

The first leg of the trail will run through the Delta Regional Park on Crittenden County roads between the bridges and looping back toward the Harahan Bridge near Dacus Lake.

The Big River Crossing on the bridge is set for an Oct.

22 grand opening ceremony.

The attorney for the district delivered an updated legal status to the directors.

Board President, former State Senator Steve Higginbotham, looked down the path ahead for the directors. J. Harmon briefed the group on legal matters and said there have been formal requests for information from some land owners along the BRT which came after cattle gates were put along the new bikeway.

Some landowners opposed to the trail have retained an attorney.

“We recently received a freedom of information request regarding the bike trail on the levee,” said Harmon. “We’ve compiled our records. Nothing has been filed, it’s in an informational stage. They expressed in a letter their opposition to the project as underlying owners in the area.”

“I’ve had discussions with land owners,” said CEO Rob Rash. “There are concerns over access. We will have more discussions and I hope to work things out.” Rash described the gates for bicyclists to use on the trek down the levee. Levee crews recently installed 44 gates in just three days.

While put in place by the levee district, they were funded through the state.

“They are three-and-a-half feet high and five feet wide and basically a yellow cattle guard,” said Rash.

“They bypass the gates so the bikes can go around and stay on the trail. Those bypasses were paid for with discretionary money under Governor (Mike) Beebe.”

Groups affiliated with the trail development project listed in the meeting include the Governor, Parks and Tourism Office, The City of West Memphis and the Advertising & Promotion Commission, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Heritage Trails, Fish and Wildlife, and the Big River Strategic Initiative.

“The City of West Memphis has $500,000 into the bike trail,” said Rash.

“There is $54 million worth of Federal, State and local money spent on the Harahan Bridge crossing. It is a

sight to see.” Senator Higginbotham delivered

a construction update for the Big River Trail project.

“The trail across the Harahan is finished,” said Higginbotham. “It is just the entrance and the exit points remaining to finish. You will be really impressed when you see what is right here in West Memphis, Arkansas. When you compound that with the Ecotrail it’s going to be a really, really neat deal.”

“I am proud we are a partner in this and not an adversary,” said Higginbotham. “It has partners in Arkansas State Government and all of Memphis. I think it is something we will be very proud of. A private donor recently donated $12 million dollars to light the bridge with LED.

It can change colors and designs. He also agreed to foot the bill for the power on the bridge for 15 years.

At that point in time, they turn it over to the City of Memphis. This is a big deal


By John Rech

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