Big River Crossing opening earns Arkansas Delta Byways honors
West Memphis CVB recognized for grand opening celebration
The West Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau earned the Arkansas Delta Byways event of the year award. The recognition followed a day long grand opening celebration at the Big River Crossing that started with a grand ribbon cutting and dignitaries including Governor Asa Hutchinson. The restored Union Pacific Engine 844 traveled 1,200 miles to steam across the Harahan and open the bridge walk with its whistle. Musicians played blues on the West Memphis side into the evening as hundreds of excited pedestrians a bicyclists crossed the 10 foot wide mile long platform built 100 feet above the Big Muddy for the first time.
The night culminated in a fireworks show as decorative LEDs lit up the Harahan Bridge for the first time.
The whole production was underwritten by the West Memphis Advertising and Promotions Commission funding and the event produced by Convention and Visitors Executive Director Jim Jackson. The $19 million dollar span served to connect Broadway in West Memphis to the Greenline in Memphis as part of the larger $43 Million Main Street to Main Street project under a transportation investment and economic recovery (TIGER) grant.
The crossing also connects to Big River Trail running south to Marianna and to the West Memphis Planning and Development De- partments Delta Regional River Park project now under construction. The budget for the West Memphis BRX grand opening day was capped at $30,000 by the A& P.
“The fireworks and the entertainment was most of that,” said Jackson.
The CVB Director expressed gratitude for the A& P support for the event and said this kind of recognition brings tourism to West Memphis.
“I’ve got to thank the A& P for backing the Big River Crossing grand opening event and everything in the Delta Regional River Park,” said Jackson. “They have continued support, just funding way-finding signs that will lead more of the cyclists into our city. I know this is a growing thing. My office is on East Broadway and I see more serious cyclists decked out in all the garb all the time.”
The Delta Byways covers fifteen east Arkansas counties and the award put West
Memphis on the area tourism forefront. Jackson looked forward to more city recognition with another
BRX nomination, this one getting statewide recognition at the Governors Conference on Tourism in March.
“I am proud of this award and the possibility of a statewide governor’s award makes me even more proud,” said Jackson. “The city will be noticed again in March 2018 hosting the governors tourism awards here.”
By John Rech