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Jul. 9, 2013

Tennessee Gets Greener One Bike Path at a Time

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Tennessee Governor’s Office and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) are allocating a $399,619 grant to the town of Atoka, Tenn., north of Memphis. The news follows Memphis’ recent announcement to build out an extensive green bike lane network. The grant, announced by Gov. Bill Haslam and TDOT Commissioner John Schroer, will fund the creation of new pedestrian and bicycle connection as well as recreational facilities. The multi-phase project will be developed alongside several other park and trail initiatives that will end in a web of green spaces and trails.

Phase I of the Atoka Greenway-Pedestrian Neighborhood Connector Project will provide access to several recreational facilities, thus creating a hub of community life. The project will include a 10-foot-wide path lined with native greenery and wayfinding signage. ADA-compliant crosswalks and pedestrian bridges will be created, while drainage will also be improved.

The grant was provided by the formerly “transportation enhancement” federal program managed by TDOT. The program provides equity to restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects. While the Greater Memphis Area and Tennessee for that matter are far behind many other regions in non-traditional transportation and greening projects, TDOT has provided $294 million in funds to such initiatives, possibly suggesting a shift in thinking.

Gov. Haslam declared in a press release: “It is wonderful to see communities across the state creating a network of greenways, trails and walkways allowing residents and visitors to experience our cities and towns in new and different ways.” However, it was only last week that The Memphis Daily News reported that TDOT pulled $316,680 in funding from a riverfront bike and pedestrian project in Memphis, citing inactivity from the city, which was supposed to match the grant with $79,171 in city funds. That project was intended to revitalize the cobblestones area along the waterfront between Beale Street Landing and Tom Lee Park as well as the area long Jefferson Davis park and the city floodwalls in the vicinity of The Pyramid. The Riverfront Development Corp. is now reportedly looking for other sources to fund the project.

Image credits: Thomas R Machnitzki via Wikimedia Commons