Tom Lee Park construction crew installs new wooden beams in the canopy

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 6:20 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tom Lee Park goes vertical. A gigantic addition to the park in downtown Memphis made Wednesday one of the most important days in the TLP renovation project.

Crews hoisted a wooden beam into place on the giant metal canopy which will be the centerpiece of the park. The contractor calls this “an engineering marvel that no one has ever seen in Memphis before.”

A huge crane put a 9,000-pound, 130-foot-long wood beam into place on the Hyde Civic Canopy.

The canopy is the focal point of the park and it’s where blues fans will likely spend a lot of time during Beale Street Music Fest next year.

It was a big day for the Tom Lee Park construction crew installing the first of 12 massive wooden beams in the canopy.

“This is a steel structure mainframe with glulam pieces that basically connect all the steel together,” said Adam Moore, Construction Manager for Montgomery Martin. “This is the first piece of the actual glulam, the first of about 150 pieces that will go together to create the whole civic canopy.”

Glulam means glued and laminated. Each of the dozen wooden beams is 130 feet long, weighing 9,000 pounds. The wood pieces are assembled in Oregon. The steel frames are being manufactured by Grinder Fabricating in Millington.

“It’s really going to be a beautiful structure,” said George Abbott with Memphis River Parks Partnership, “all the pieces of wood fit together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle.”

The Hyde Civic Canopy is designed to host sporting events, weddings, and concerts. Carol Coletta, the CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership, the non-profit in charge of the $60-million park renovation, delivered good news for fans of the Beale Street Music Festival who were disappointed there wouldn’t be a Blues Tent next year.

”We didn’t think the canopy would be finished,” Coletta said. “But it will be. If they want to use the civic canopy for the Blues Tent, they can use the civic canopy for the Blues Tent.”

Tom Lee Park is now 60 percent completed, and the project’s on time.

“We’re moving quickly,” said MRPP’s Abbott, “as cross beams come in on the canopy, the structure will start to support itself and the crew can take away the shoring towers made out of shipping containers.”

Getting the first beam in place was critical for contractor Montgomery Martin.

“This is the piece that we have to complete so that it ties the whole park in, right?” said Moore, “We’ve been waiting on this day for a long time.”

The larger beams will connect six wooden quad pods that each weigh an average of 16,000 pounds. This construction job is no easy feat.

”This really is the centerpiece of our fabulous new Tom Lee Park,” said Abbott. The contractor says it should take them two months to install all the wooden pieces.

Action News 5 also asked MRPP for an update on negotiations with Memphis In May for the 2023 festival.

We were told there is still no contract in place between MIM and MRPP. The Memphis City Council is scheduled to take up Mayor Strickland’s proposal in two weeks that would use $500,000 in taxpayer dollars to subsidize MIM’s damage deposit with MRPP. The money, according to city leaders, would come out of funds approved for the renovation of Mud Island. Mayor Strickland is asking for $350,000 to be used next year and $150,000 used in 2024. His proposal requires city council approval.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.