|Updated: 5/15/2008 9:13 am
||Published: 5/14/2008 9:11 pm
Central Arkansas' newest pedestrian bridge is almost ready for the public. The Junction Bridge, Little Rock's oldest, assumes a new identity Saturday morning when the grand opening will be held.
The bridge downtown between the I-30 bridge and the Broadway bridge was originally built for trains back in 1884. But this one has a much different purpose.
Every day, Michelle Paul and her pooches Duke and Dutchess go for a walk. Ms. Paul lives at the Enclave apartments at the base of the Junction Bridge in North Little Rock and she can't wait to walk on through to the other side. She knows others will too.
"I think this will be a new way, a new opportunity to see more and more people especially as gas prices continue to rise over the summer for people to save a little money and also get physically fit," Ms. Paul told us.
It cost $5.8 million to makeover the 1,800 feet of steel and concrete, with some of the money coming from federal grants. And while trains may not provide bells and whistles here anymore, the bridge has plenty of its own.
This bridge is a little bit unusual because it features 2 elevators. You have to either take the elevator or the stairs up three stories to get to the second level of the bridge which is 75 feet above the normal pool of the Arkansas River. And there are plenty of benches, trash barrels, even wi-fi access.
Nathaniel Hill with the Pulaski County Public Facilities Board said, "we're looking for this to be a destination where people say 'hey, let's just go and hang out on the bridge. Let's spend 2 or 3 hours sitting working on the computer on the internet, watching the barges pass by'."
Pulaski County, Little Rock, and North Little Rock all came together to make the project happen.
"It's been about ten years in the making but I think people will be pleased when they see it all," said Scott Carter with the city of Little Rock.
And folks who live nearby say it's a welcome addition downtown. "I'm really excited to see that Little Rock has this to offer," Ms. Paul told us.
There's a special event planned for Thursday night but the grand opening happens at 10 Saturday morning. There will be a ribbon tying ceremony, a metaphor for the link the bridge provides between Little Rock and North Little Rock.