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Four More Miles: Shelby Farms Greenline Gets Green Light to Become Longest Greenway Trail in Memphis

Funding for the planned eastward extension of Shelby Farms Greenline has been approved, and officials from Shelby County and Shelby Farms Park Conservancy will break ground on the project at a ceremony on August 7 at 1:30 pm. The groundbreaking will take place near the Old Cordova Rail House, which marks the future eastern terminus of the trail. The extension will open in late Summer 2016. 

Shelby Farms Greenline is a paved urban trail that transformed an unused railroad into what is currently a 6.5 mile cycling and pedestrian trail that connects the heart of Memphis to the northeastern entrance of Shelby Farms Park. After the 4.15-mile extension is complete, Shelby Farms Greenline will be the longest continuous greenway trail in Shelby County. 

“This is another significant step to provide Shelby County with a first-class recreational route for walkers, joggers and bikers.  Not only will the new route link various neighborhoods, but it will encourage more citizens to exercise.  Promoting a healthier community continues to be one of our top priorities at Shelby County Government,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. 

Each year, more than 200,000 people visit the Shelby Farms Greenline that connects Midtown Memphis to Shelby Farms Park each year. The Greenline extension, designed by Ritchie Smith Associates, will provide the same cycling and pedestrian access to even more neighborhoods, schools and other recreational facilities that could previously only be reached by car.  The number of people using the Greenline is expected to grow exponentially, and that growth will be tracked using two new Eco Counters. These two visitor counters will tie into the seven other counters around the Park that help keep track of the number of Park and Greenline visitors and how they are accessing the Park (on foot, bicycle or motorized vehicle).

 “The goal of the Shelby Farms Greenline is to connect people to the Park and to each other,” said SFPC Executive Director, Laura W. Morris. “Prior to its creation, you couldn’t access the Park without a car. Now we’re seeing more than 1,000 visitors hitting the trail each week. We are grateful for Mayor Luttrell and Shelby County Government’s commitment to seeing this project through, and we can’t wait to see the number of visitors grow in the next year with completion of the extension and with the opening of Heart of the Park amenities!”

There will be six entrances to the Greenline extension at cross streets, including Appling Road, which will become a 3-way stop. The trail will also safely cross Germantown Parkway, currently an intimidating barrier to pedestrian and cycle traffic. Engineers crafted a crossing solution that keeps pedestrians safe and avoids slowing down vehicular traffic. The creative crossing will include two separate, staggered stoplights for east and westbound traffic with a reinforced safety barrier along the median that allows visitors to safely travel between lights.Construction on the extension began on August 3, 2015 and will be completed in one year, opening in close time with the Heart of the Park renovations occurring inside the Park. Construction will be carried out by Wagner Construction, and Bob Evans of Shelby County will serve as the Project Director.

The cost of the eastern extension is $4.3 million. Of that total budget, $3.3 million came from state and federal funds provided through the Tennessee Department of Transportation, most notably of which was the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant that paid for the unique crossing at Germantown Road. 

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