Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MRT from Memphis-West Memphis - Will it be blocked?

I got this from Bob a few days ago and then 2 folks sent it to me again last night, so it is important.

There is a chance that TDOT will mindlessly block the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) with their new i-55/Crump interchange project. They might cut off bike abd pedestrian access to the sidewalk on the I-55 bridge.

FYI- The MRT is a national trail stretching from Minnessota to the Gulf of Mexico. The I-55 bridge over the river at Memphis is a critical link in the trail.

Joe Royer of Outdoors is on the Board of the MRT (scroll down some). Let Joe and the other board members know that we need to make sure TDOT/FHWA maintains at least access to the bike-pedestrian path over the river.

Here is the website for the project:

Below is the email from Bob Rodgers- You can copy. cut, and paste your own comments in it to send to the project director.

Let them know you want continued access to the I-55 bridge sidewalks for bicyclists and walkers- it is the only way to get across the river for miles in either direction!!!
From Bob R:
...while bikers were being wooed and wowed at a meeting to discuss the CSX line, another meeting was happening across town to take comments on planned changes at the I-55/Crump interchange leading to the old bridge. The old bridge has separated sidewalks and is the only way a bicyclist or pedestrian can cross the river for many miles from Memphis.

In response to a question from a bicyclist, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) spokesman made it clear that the State considered this an Interstate project only. We all know that US interstates ban non-motorized transportation. It is not acceptable that Tennessee does not recognize the importance of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and acknowledge that they must at least allow access to the bridge to non-motorized types of transport.

If you are also concerned about this, you can make comments directly to TDOT about their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Comments must be postmarked no later than July 28th. Comments cannot be anonymous; they should include your name and mailing address, or any other information needed to legally establish your standing on the issue.

I've sent my comments, but was reminded by someone today that to make certain they land in the right hands the subject should say:
Comments regarding FHWA-TN-EIS-08-01-D
DEIS I-55 at E.H.Crump Blvd. & S. Riverside Blvd.
Memphis Shelby County TN

Comments may be mailed to:

Project Comments

Tennessee Department of Transportation

Suite 700, James K. Polk Building

505 Deadrick Street

Nashville, TN 37243-0332

Or they may be emailed to:

Below is a copy of the comments we are sending. Feel free to use this letter and attach your own name.

Comments to: the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)

Regarding: FHWA-TN-EIS-08-01-D
DEIS I-55 at E.H.Crump Blvd. & S. Riverside Blvd.
Memphis Shelby County TN

From: Name


My comments on this project concern bicycle and pedestrian access as discussed in the DEIS in the Executive Summary under “Environmental Commitments – Social Commitments” and later on page 72, Chapter 3, part 8 “Pedestrians and Bicyclists Considerations” – 3.8.1 Affected Environment.

I understand the difficulties in designing such a complex change to an important and busy interchange, and I commend TDOT for promising to consider provisions for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations during the final design phase. Though bike lanes and/or sidewalks may not be practical or safe within the project area, provisions must provide for bicycle and pedestrian access to the French Fort neighborhood.

While the DEIS promises to consider bicycle and pedestrian access into the neighborhood, it is silent about such access to the existing sidewalks on the I-55 bridge over the Mississippi River. In fact, the DEIS states, “Due to the nature of this project, safety issues may prohibit bicycle and pedestrian accommodations within much of the project ROW.” The I-55 bridge is the only Mississippi River crossing available to bicyclists and pedestrians for many miles north and south of Memphis. Importantly, it is identified as the crossing point in Memphis on the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) which runs from Minnesota to Louisiana and is supported by many states and private enterprises interested in preserving and enhancing this route.

It is imperative that the final EIS recognizes the need for access to the bridge by non-motorized means in order to keep the MRT complete. Access could include sidewalks or wide lanes with appropriate speed limits and signs alerting drivers to the presence of bikes and pedestrians. At a minimum, the project must not eliminate access to the bridge from non-motorized transportation.

*Thanks to Bob Rogers for drafting this email*


ed jones said...

cliff and all. I tried to figure this out a couple of years ago. Everyone I contacted (Memphis police and others) told me that bicycles and pedestrians were not permitted on the I-55 bridge. There was actually a barrier across the sidewalk when I tried to cross it myself. The walkway was strewn with broken glass. I've walked halfway across and cannot recommend it for anyone. I've e-mailed Joe Royer twice about it in recent years, but no response. I've been contacted by folks from out of town seeking a place to cross the MS river at Memphis. I suggested Helena Ark.
Ed Jones

Greg Siskind said...

I wrote a letter per the suggestion here. Here is the comment I received:

Good afternoon,

I want to thank you for sharing your concerns for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the proposed I-55 Crump Interchange project. Your comments are very important to us.

The I-55/Crump Blvd. interchange is not in the Design process yet.
First, it has to go through the Environmental Phase, and currently the department is gathering public comment for the draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) as part of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Your comments will be submitted to Parsons, Environmental Consultant, for consideration in the Final EIS. You will be able to view the FEIS at our website,, after it is approved by Federal Highway Administration.

Please contact Mr. Steve Chipman, Project Manager, if you have any additional questions or comments. Mr. Chipman’s contact information is listed below.
Mr. Steve Chipman
Project Manager
300 Benchmark Place
Jackson, TN 38301


Pauline Crum
Administrative Services Assistant 2
TN Department of Transportation
300 Benchmark Place
Jackson, TN 38301