The historic Harahan Bridge, which this week celebrates its 100th anniversary, has announced its newly branded neighbor, the Big River Crossing, is officially opening to the public on October 22.
At approximately 1-mile long, Big River Crossing will be the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River. It serves as the centerpiece of the Main Street to Main Street project, a 10-mile multi-modal corridor between Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR.
“Before the addition of the Big River Crossing the Harahan Bridge allowed rail and auto traffic to create new connections,” said Charlie McVean, founder of McVean Trading & Investments, LLC. “Built for rail and auto traffic, the Harahan Bridge enters its second century focused on the power of human activity.”
“I’m looking forward to the grand opening of the Harahan Bridge’s Big River Crossing in October,” said Congressman Steve Cohen. “The Federal funds secured from the highly competitive TIGER grant will help improve livability in downtown Memphis, increase tourism to the city, drive economic development and create jobs, and enable people to bike and walk over the historic, scenic Mississippi River. This kind of infrastructure in the heart of Memphis will help our city attract more people looking to make Memphis home.”
Today, the asset’s new name and brand were revealed on bigrivercrossing.com, which will serve as tourism’s informational gateway to Memphis. Included on the new site is a historical video, which documents the narrative of the Harahan Bridge and its evolution from railway to car and, now, foot and bike. Additionally, visitors to the web will find other photographic and video materials that tell the amazing architectural and cultural stories of the bridge.
"The original Harahan Bridge required 21,400 tons of steel which was fastened together with thousands of rivets" said Harry Pratt, President of Allen & Hoshall, who oversaw the development, engineering and construction of Big River Crossing. "It is truly an engineering marvel.""The original Harahan Bridge required 21,400 tons of steel which was fastened together with thousands of rivets" said Harry Pratt, President of Allen & Hoshall, who oversaw the development, engineering and construction of Big River Crossing. "It is truly an engineering marvel."
“The development of Big River Crossing provides yet another resource for economic development and tourism within the West Memphis area and the Delta,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “I especially want to thank Charlie McVean and his team for having the vision to create this great asset and the will to get it done.”
In addition to the private funding for the construction of the Boardwalk, anonymous donors are funding the installation and maintenance of state-of-the-art LED lighting on the Boardwalk.
“For decades, some of the most iconic images of our city have been our bridges,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in an official statement. “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.”
“This is more than a bridge,” said Terry Eastin, Executive Director of Big River Strategic Initiative. “This is a cultural asset, a connector of the emerging bike culture and an innovative pathway to the grand Arkansas trail systems. The accompanying levee system spans as long as the Great Wall of China.”
To officially open Big River Crossing, stakeholders will lead a ribbon cutting ceremony on the morning of Saturday, October 22. The gates will open to the public at 1 p.m., when an all-day celebration will commence on both sides of the bridge in Tom Lee Park and Delta Regional River Park, respectively. Food trucks, music, and entertainment will be offered, as well as a special bridge light show and fireworks at dusk.
“Memphis is considered an authentic visitor destination because of our one of kind attractions, and the addition of the Harahan will add another unique demand generator for our community,” said Kevin Kane, CEO of Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. This offers another prideful moment for us locally, and it gives us new opportunities as we market Memphis around the world.”
Big River Crossing’s grand opening coincides with River Arts Festival on South Main and the St. Jude Ride in Tom Lee Park. All three events are collaborating with MATA, the City of Memphis and the Downtown Memphis Commission to provide parking and transit routes for guests and visitors to enjoy all of the weekend’s festivities.
“What better way to launch this incredible city asset than by supporting and partnering with other notable Downtown events,” said Mayor Jim Strickland. “It’s been a great team effort across all fronts.”
ABOUT BIG RIVER CROSSING: At approximately 1-mile long, Big River Crossing is the country’s longest active bike-pedestrian rail bridge and the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River. It serves as the centerpiece of Main Street to Main Street, a 10-mile multi-modal corridor between Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR. After October 22, the bridge will be open daily to the public from dawn until 10 p.m.
For more information, visit bigrivercrossing.com.