The Shelby Farms Greenline got a big boost this week with the announcement that the trail would extend four miles east into Cordova.
Shelby County reached an agreement with CSX Railroad
to extend the Greenline from Farm Road in Shelby Farms to the old Cordova train station, using the company's deserted railroad right-of-way.
The Shelby County Commission still must approve the CSX contract. Construction bids for the extension will go out in early 2015, with work set to begin in the spring.
The Greenline quickly has become one of Memphis' most treasured assets. It currently stretches 6.5 miles, from Tillman Avenue near Midtown to Shelby Farms, and has provided Memphians with a new resource for fitness, commuting and community connection.
The Bluff City--named to Bicycling
magazine's worst list as recently as 2010--was named most improved in 2012 and has only added miles from there. Kyle Wagenschutz, the City of Memphis' bicycling and pedestrian coordinator, told High Ground News
in March that Memphis has added more than 71 total miles of bicycle-related infrastructure since 2010, more than doubling the previous total of only 62.4 total miles.
New projects planned through 2016--including the latest four miles to be added to the Greenline--will double the number again, ramping up total bicycle-specified miles to 273.3.
One of those projects, the Big River Crossing
, will see the transformation of the Harahan Bridge into a pedestrian- and bike-friendly boardwalk. It will allow Memphians to travel by bike or on foot across the Mississippi River.
All of the plans are part of the larger Mid-South Regional Greenprint
, which has a lofty goal to connect the recreational route as far east as Oakland and west to the Arkansas. Those connections, eventually, could reach as far south as New Orleans and north to Illinois.
Laura Morris, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy
Executive Director, said her organization is pleased that Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and his staff were able to successfully negotiate the contract with CSX. The Conservancy will assume management of the new mileage.
"Indeed, this is another major development for the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy," Morris said. "The Greenline extension through Cordova will bring even more people to the wonderful recreational assets we provide."