The Clinton Park Bridge, which long ago served the Choctaw Line, is once again open for business. It is a very nice addition to the Clinton Library and to the River Trail system, and should be a boon to commuters using the NLR trail to access downtown Little Rock.
This sculpture is a fitting welcome.
The views are spectacular and the mix of old and new structure on the bridge makes for interesting geometry. The ride down the NLR trail to here is easy to follow and mostly isolated from traffic. That changes at the foot of the new bridge.
After crossing the bridge, I made my way along what I assumed to be the trail as it winds behind the River Market and on to the Medical Mile. The trail isn't really well marked as it crosses drives and parking lots, but manageable if you have confidence in your general direction. As I made my way out of the River Market, the trail passes under a shady arbor, beneath which two very drunk middle aged guys appeared to be having a domestic dispute as one whirled around a bike on its kickstand in the middle of the path while the other derided him for some offense. Under the Broadway Bridge, the trail passes a food kitchen for the homeless and several dozen folks were lined up for dinner. A block further down and the trail comes to an end. Part of the trail collapsed into the river a couple of years ago and remains impassable. That's of little consequence, because even with the Medical Mile intact riders were simply forced back to Markham Street at the UP RR tracks instead of at Arch Street, as is presently the case.
End of the line.
From here, the designated bike route takes Arch to Markham St., then continues on via Cross to the point where riders are forced to cross oncoming traffic lanes and take to the sidewalk, gravel-strewn North Street, more sidewalk, a little misdirection down a one-lane one-way bit of street under the Cantrell viaduct over the UP tracks, and across an often busy parking lot and driveway for Cajun's Wharf before connecting back to designated bike paths and lanes.I have not really been much of a crusader for completion of the River Trail along what I like to call the Moronic Mile, but my recent loop ride from the eyes of a visitor was a revelation. All I can say is that it's a damn shame that the City of Little Rock can't get it together to complete this now confusing and potentially dangerous gap in our trail system. While our bike advocacy leadership debates how to reel in "rogue cyclists" on the trail, I'm not hearing nearly enough discussion aimed at promoting cycling and pushing Little Rock to carry their share of the trail system. LR got a million dollars from the state several years ago to go toward the project. The recent sales tax initiative was passed. Surely, out of the $500 million that the new tax should generate over the next decade, a way can be found to complete the trail along what is now the "Moronic Mile".
The original mission...
And, yes, the Two Rivers Bridge looks very cool with the new lighting!