Shelby Farms Greenline to Become Memphis' Longest Greenway Trail

Posted 08/07/15 by Amy Kapp in Building Trails, Trail Use

Shelby Farms Greenline | Photo courtesy Shelby Farms Park Conservancy

RTC was pleased to learn about this update regarding the Shelby Farms Greenline in Memphis, Tennessee, which was recently featured in our Rails to Trails magazine Spring/Summer 2015 cover story

Shelby County and Shelby Farms Park Conservancy (SFPC) are planning a $4.3 million, 4-mile eastward extension of the rail-trail and just broke ground on the project on Aug. 7. The groundbreaking took place near the Old Cordova Rail House, which marks the eastern terminus of the trail.

Shelby Farms Greenline | Photo courtesy Sean Davis | CC by 2.0

The Shelby Farms Greenline is currently a 6.5-mile trail that in less than a decade has helped inspire a new culture of biking and walking in Memphis. To underscore the trail's influence: The city went from just two 1-mile bike lanes in 2008 to more than 80 miles as of the end of 2014.

After the extension is complete, the Shelby Farms Greenline will be the longest continuous greenway trail in Shelby County.

“This is another significant step to provide Shelby County with a first-class recreational route for walkers, joggers and bikers. Not only will the new route link various neighborhoods, but it will encourage more citizens to exercise. Promoting a healthier community continues to be one of our top priorities at Shelby County Government,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. in an Aug. 7 press release.

Here's more from the release:

The number of people using the Greenline [currently about 200,000 people annually] is expected to grow exponentially, and that growth will be tracked using two new Eco Counters. These two visitor counters will tie into the seven other counters around the Park that help keep track of the number of Park and Greenline visitors and how they are accessing the Park (on foot, bicycle or motorized vehicle).

The future Shelby Farms Greenline crossing at Germantown Parkway | Schematic courtesy Shelby Farms Park Conservancy

There will be six entrances to the greenline extension at cross streets, including Appling Road, which will become a three-way stop. The trail will also safely cross Germantown Parkway, currently an intimidating barrier to pedestrian and cycle traffic. Engineers crafted a crossing solution that keeps pedestrians safe and avoids slowing down vehicular traffic. The creative crossing will include two separate, staggered stoplights for eastbound and westbound traffic with a reinforced safety barrier along the median [for safe travel] between lights.

“The goal of the Shelby Farms Greenline is to connect people to the park and to each other,” said SFPC Executive Director Laura W. Morris. “Prior to its creation, you couldn’t access the park without a car. Now we’re seeing more than 1,000 visitors hitting the trail each week."

The trail extension was designed by Ritchie Smith Associates and funded mostly by state and federal funds through the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Construction began on Aug. 3, 2015, and is scheduled for completion in September 2016.

You can learn more about the greenline on the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy website.

Congratulations, Memphis, on another step toward a more walkable and bikeable community. 

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