Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Mayors' Broadway Bridge, Visualized

If any ol' picture is worth a thousand words, then there's no telling how much word-value the ones below carry. 

Looking south over Dickey Stephens
Go up the Arkansas River from its confluence with the mighty Mississippi. Look at the bridges as you pass under them. The Broadway Bridge is the only historic road bridge you'll see before you reach the similarly grand example in Ozark.* Broadway is one of the most iconic and elegant structures in central Arkansas with its cast concrete arches growing out of the North Little Rock side echoed by the newer steel arch over the shipping channel. It connects what many of us hope will some day soon be a walkable and livable downtown on the south bank to another downtown on the north that is already well on its way toward a brighter future. The current plan moving forward through the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department though calls for demolishing it and replacing it with a wider, faster span that will likely just lead to more traffic and congestion in both cities. 

As you may have heard already, Mayor Stodola of  LR and Mayor Hays of NLR recently pitched an alternative plan to AHTD. It involves building a new bridge to cross at Chester Street and then preserving and adaptively reusing the Broadway Bridge as an urban linear park. (a la the High Line). Makes sense to me. See some of the images from their presentation below and dream big...

* You won't see another  historic road bridge upstream from Ozark until you go past the end of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System at Muskogee, OK. Yes, the shipping channel does extend all the way to Tulsa, but it's in a tributary of the Arkansas above Muskogee. 


  1. I would love to see this to fruition - I think it would be wonderful and "cool" to have the Broadway Bridge be a social gathering place with friends and family enjoying coffee, etc. and viewing the beautiful Arkansas River. I am also a bicyclist and sometimes commute to my shop. I live in NLR and my sewing shop is on Broadway in LR. This might also help promote more bicyclist commute.

  2. So if the main thoroughfare become Chester than traffic should lighten up on Broadway. It could go on a road diet allowing bike lanes giving a much needed North-South route through the city. Image commuting from the Quapaw Quarter into town or to NLR. All the business that could be served. It would also give easy access to the river trail. All kinds of good things could come of this one idea.

  3. I love the post! I hope they don't demolish the bridge and I'm glad to hear that the mayors are proposing something different.

    I think its funny (for example) how often times the Highway department will assign economic benefits to a project based on the idea that a project will save 3 minutes in commuting time to 20 thousand people a day and say it will be a benefit of $5 Million a year because 'obviously' all those people will get a second job at $10/hr. It's kinda like entropy, the energy (saved time) is spread out too thin to do any work, so their arguments about economic benefits from saved commuting time would go up in smoke if they actually spent a couple of minutes thinking about it.