No cars and few people could draw tourists from around - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

No cars and few people could draw tourists from around the world

Top leaders from Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will attend a reception Wednesday night celebrating the proposed Big River Parkway. (Photo Source: Big River Parkway) Top leaders from Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will attend a reception Wednesday night celebrating the proposed Big River Parkway. (Photo Source: Big River Parkway)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - A huge tourism boost may be on the way to Memphis.

Top leaders from Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are talking about how to make the proposed Big River Parkway a reality.

The parkway would run the entire length of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Promoters call it a massive parkway with no cars and very few people. In other words, it's a huge draw for cyclists worldwide.

The National Geographic Society hopes to create a geo-tourism destination on the entire length of the Mississippi River with the Big River Crossing and the Harahan Bridge as a focal point. The dream is to create a river parkway with a paved cycling path on the levees alongside the river.

Before this plans becomes a reality, levee boards up and down the river would have to approve the plan.

It will take many approvals from agencies like the St. Francis Levee District of Arkansas.

"We're excited. We realize the opportunity both on the Tennessee side as well as the Arkansas side, connecting on down to Lee County, Phillips County, and on to Louisiana," Steve Higganbotham with the district said.

Union Pacific Railroad owns the Harahan Bridge. A top rail executive says Memphis leaders made a compelling case for adding a pedestrian-cycling pathway on the span connecting Memphis to Arkansas.

"Both sides of the river, public officials, here in Memphis, community leaders, taking time to think about it and approach us in a way that made it attractive to us," Bob Turner with Union Pacific Railroad said.

Supporters of the plan say the boards should approve the plan, because it will breathe new life into decaying river towns.

The dream is to have the first phase of the Big River Parkway completed by March 2016. That would establish the connection from New Orleans all the way up to Memphis.

To see photos of the Harahan Bridge from over the years to what it will look like in the future, click here: http://bit.ly/1ms4mMy.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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