FIRST LOOK: Joe Birch gives a sneak peek of the Harahan Bridge

First look at the new bridge over the Mississippi
Published: Oct. 19, 2016 at 1:34 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2016 at 12:03 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's a sneak peek at the new Harahan Bridge that provides a whole new way to cross the mighty Mississippi River.

It's the Big River Crossing on the 100 year old Harahan Bridge.

An exclusive look from Chopper 5 shows The Big River Crossing, a one-mile boardwalk on the century old Harahan Bridge, gives us all a new pathway for fun.

It's the vision of Memphis businessman Charlie McVean.

"We think this will ultimately span a bike, trail running from here to New Orleans," McVean said.

Cyclists said the new span will be a big draw.

"This is going to be the gateway to get across the river," Dave Hamilton, cyclist, said.

Paul Morris managed the project and helped land a 15 million dollar federal grant by uniting the bridge project with improvements from Main Street Memphis to Broadway to West Memphis.

"It's drawing more citizens to our city and making our city a nicer place for those who have a choice about where to live in this country," Paul Morris, Main to Main project manager, said.

Harry Pratt managed an army of engineers who made sure the Harahan's century old structural steel could handle huge crowds of people.

"It will hold as many people who can stand on it shoulder to shoulder," Pratt said. "It will also take a 10,000 pound vehicle if we had to bring a truck out here for some emergency."

McVean first showed us his dream in 2010. Now, it's here.

"There's nothing like this in the whole world," McVean said.

He convinced Union Pacific Railroad to allow the boardwalk just feet away from a live freight line. He talked Arkansas' Levee Board into allowing cyclists to ride from the Big River Crossing on levee trails all the way to Marianna.

Now, McVean's son is developing riverside cycling trails directly across from the Memphis skyline that may become Shelby Farms West.

"Now it feels like a real natural to make this park a reality," McVean said.

There will be a celebration for the opening of the Big River Crossing Saturday night.

The festivities will be complete with fireworks and WMC's own Joe Birch as the Emcee.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.