Wolf River Greenway: Project Update

By Daniel Ashworth, Design Associate, Alta Planning + Design

The current Wolf River Greenway project will provide an additional 21 miles of trail in Memphis, Tennessee. It will connect the existing greenway, which ends at Walnut Grove Road, to the Mud Island Greenbelt Park. The client for the project is the Wolf River Conservancy, and the project involves private funds, as well as funding from the City of Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee Department of Transportation, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The project began construction in July of last year with the groundbreaking of Phase 9 at Epping Way Drive. The Alta team has been involved with the construction documentation and observation as a lead, with ETI Corporation and DHM Design as team partners. Currently, there are 3 phases of the Wolf River Greenway under construction. These construction phases are Phase 1, Phase 9, and Phase 11 as illustrated in the map below. I have been directly involved with construction observation on Phases 9 and 11.

The trail roughly follows the Wolf River corridor and the majority of the trail will be off-street.

Phase 9

Phase 9 at the old Epping Manor site was the first phase under construction. The construction documents and construction administration for this phase are being performed by Alta. This section of trail is just under one mile long and will connect North Highland Street to Epping Way Drive and then turns another half mile eastward. This phase of the project has two pedestrian bridges and two pipe culvert crossings. Currently, gravel is installed along most of the trail and the bridge abutments have been poured. The bridges have been ordered and are in fabrication. This phase is expected to be completed by July 31, 2017.

(left) Phase 9 Google Earth Aerial from October, 2016 showing the rough graded areas of trail before geogrid and gravel base installation. (right) Phase 9 rough graded trail before geogrid and gravel base installation.
(left) Phase 9 trail gravel base. (middle) Phase 9 bridge abutment pier drilling. (right) Phase 9 bridge abutment pier drilling.

Phase 1

Phase 1 is on the north end of Mud Island at the proposed Confluence Park and is the second phase to begin construction. Though master planned by Alta, the construction documents and construction administration for this phase are being performed by ETI Corporation. This phase connects the existing Greenbelt Park concrete walkway to a trail loop overlooking the Mississippi River and Wolf River and extends eastward nearly to Second Street. This phase is 1.5 miles and includes a section of concrete boardwalk. The concrete sections of trail are mostly in place and about half of the remaining trail alignment has geogrid and gravel installed. Phase 1 is expected to be completed on June 8, 2017.

(left) Phase 1 survey staking review to confirm final trail centerline before clearing and grading activities. (middle) Phase 1 trail clearing. Photo by Mark Lindstrom, ETI Corporation. (right) Phase 1 gravel base installation. Photo by Mark Lindstrom, ETI Corporation.
(left) Phase 1, setting of concrete trail forms. (right) Phase 1, concrete trail and sidewalk with planter curb. Photo by Mark Lindstrom, ETI Corporation.
(left) Phase 1 concrete trail. Photo by Mark Lindstrom, ETI Corporation. (right) Phase 1 concrete trail looking toward the Mississippi River. Lindstrom, ETI Corporation.

Phase 11

Phase 11 in Kennedy Park in the Raleigh area of Memphis is the third phase under construction. This run of trail will be 1.7 miles long and includes six pedestrian bridges and three pipe culvert crossings. The site is heavily wooded and offers views of the Wolf River, an old oxbow wetland, and the Lateral M creek branch. Currently, the trail corridor is cleared and rough grading is occurring on about a third of the trail alignment. Three of the bridges have been fabricated, and the contractor is about to install test micropiles before working on the permanent piles that will support the bridge abutments. This phase of the project is expected to be complete in August, 2017.

Phase 11 trail alignment clearing.
(left) Phase 11 trail clearing and erosion control at oxbow. (right) Phase 11 rough grading.

With these three phases, it is expected Memphis will have over 4 miles of the 21-mile Wolf River Greenway trail corridor complete and open to the public. One goal is to have three more phases under construction this year: Phase 8, which is a two-way separated cycle track on North Highland Street; Phase 14B, which runs from Walnut Grove Road to the TVA power line easement north of the Baptist Memorial Hospital complex; and Phase 10A, which will connect Phase 9 to Jackson Street by mostly running along Stage James Road. These phases are at various levels of permitting and review and should be out for construction bids by the end of the year. The entire project is planned to be complete and open to the public by 2020.