Junction Bridge provides new trail link across Arkansas River
Junction Bridge, a backdrop to both Little Rock and North Little Rock’s skylines for over 100 years, has been transformed into a pedestrian bridge featued at the 2008 National Trails Symposium.
From Pulaski County Facilities Board
The long-awaited completion of the renovation of the Junction Railroad Bridge converting it to a pedestrian and bicycle bridge took place May 17, 2008. Access to the bridge is by a walkway (handicap accessible) directly behind the River Market pavilion on the Little Rock side and from Washington Street near Alltel Arena on the North Little Rock side. A ceremonial “Tying Our Cities Together” was accomplished with two 900 foot lengths of ribbon reaching from each end of the bridge. Local school groups brought the ribbon together at the center of the bridge for a symbolic tying of the cities.
The Junction Bridge was constructed in 1884 as the primary railroad bridge connecting the northern and southern railway lines. In 1985, the then-owners of the bridge, Union Pacific closed the bridge to rail traffic and in 1999 ceded the bridge to the City of Little Rock. Through an inter-local agreement the bridge was leased for 99 years to the Pulaski County Bridges Facilities Board for the purpose of developing the pedestrian/bicycle bridge. After the planning for the conversion of the bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle venue for public use, construction was begun in 2007. The total project cost with funding provided by local, state and federal transportation funds is $5,800,000.
The bridge is believed to be the only “lift span” bridge that has been converted to a pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the United States. The “lift span” is locked into place in a raised position to allow for uninterrupted barge traffic on the river. Visitors to the bridge may transverse the entire length of the structure by riding elevators up to and down from the 360 foot (length) lift span. The overall length of the bridge is 1,800 feet.
For the comfort of the visitors to the bridge, there are benches and other amenities. Areas which have been modernized on the structure are painted blue. The original paint is being left on the bridge to signify its age. The bridge will be lighted at night by special “up-lighting” on the beams.
McClelland Engineers was the project engineering firm, and May Construction was the general contractor. Both are headquartered in Little Rock.
Eighty percent of the funding for the renovation of the Junction Bridge was provided by grants from the Federal Transportation budget through the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. The remaining twenty percent match was provided by road and bridge funds of the Cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock as well as Pulaski County. The Junction Bridge will be open to the public during Riverfest. At a later date the south end will be closed for the excavation of Little Rock’s namesake, La Petite Roche, which will open up vistas
to the river from the park . Also during this time, an extension bridge and landscaping will complete the entrance to the Junction Bridge from the south. The Junction Bridge will be available for private party events. Information on rentals will be released at a later date.
The Junction Bridge is a component of the Six Bridges Plan. In 1999, the UALR Donaghey Project for Urban Studies and Design developed the Six Bridges Framework Plan. The Six Bridges, from west to east are: Baring Cross Bridge, Broadway Bridge, Main Street Bridge, Junction Bridge, I-30 Bridge, and Rock Island Bridge. In 2002, the Pulaski County Bridge Public Facilities Board was established for the purpose of overseeing the development, operation, and maintenance of these bridges.
Junction Bridge Fact Sheet
Junction Bridge has served as a backdrop to both Little Rock and North Little Rock’s skylines for over 100 years. Today, this vital landmark has been transformed into a pedestrian bridge that will serve as one of the state’s premiere “destinations” for both tourists and locals to view the Arkansas River and discover the heart of Central Arkansas’ flourishing activities.
Six Bridges Plan:
Junction Bridge Statistics:
Future of the Bridge:
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Updated June 22, 2008