Overton Park Conservancy
was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the First Tennessee Foundation allowing for the construction of an enhanced bike/pedestrian entrance at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Cooper Street. The $25,000 funds complete the Conservancy’s required match, unlocking the federal funds that will allow the project to move forward.
The entrance enhancements come as the City of Memphis prepares to stripe bike lanes along Cooper Street leading into Overton Park. Current conditions offer a single crosswalk across Poplar, leading to a small patch of concrete with no connection to the park’s sidewalk or trail systems. The new plans, designed by Ritchie Smith Associates, call for a second crosswalk on the west side of the intersection, a protected bicycle crossing phase at the intersection’s traffic signal, an enhanced landing pad for cyclists and pedestrians, and a new path connecting to the off-street trail system.
“We are thrilled to partner once again with the First Tennessee Foundation to make Overton Park more accessible,” says Tina Sullivan, Executive Director of Overton ParkConservancy.
Bicycle access to Overton Park is an important facet of the overall city bicycle connectivity plan, as the park is now, or soon will be, surrounded on all sides by dedicated bicycle infrastructure. Currently, however, only two approaches to the park provide protected access by bicycle. The Cooper-Poplar Connector project adds a third level of access for those park users and commuters coming from or traveling to the southern neighborhoods and business districts.
Improved bicycle and pedestrian access is also a key component of the effort to alleviate traffic and parking demand for the park and its attractions. The planning effort currently underway by Looney Ricks Kiss identified the Cooper-Poplar entrance as a key area for improving non-vehicular access.
The City of Memphis plans to begin road infrastructure improvements for the Cooper Street bike lanes this year. The Cooper-Poplar Connector project at Overton Park will coincide with the City’s construction schedule. The Conservancy aims to have Cooper-Poplar Connector at Overton Park project completed in 2016.
Project costs for the Cooper-Poplar Connector at Overton Park total $346,000. This project is partially funded by a Tennessee Department of Transportation Surface Transportation Program (STP) grant obtained by the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The City of Memphis has allocated funding in its Capital Improvement Budget for this project. The First Tennessee grant represents the balance of the funding Overton Park Conservancy needed to raise for the project to move forward.