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Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project

Memphis, Tennessee

♦ 2017 American Architecture Award – Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design ♦
♦ 2017 Project of the Year – Memphis Business Journal ♦
♦ 2017 Best Renovation/Conversion Project (Large Project – $15M and over) – Memphis Business Journal ♦
♦ 2017 Engineering Excellence Award – City of Memphis ♦
♦ 2017 Special Projects Honoree – ACEC Tennessee ♦

Memphis is a recognized transportation and distribution hub and has served as a primary connecting point for people and businesses around the globe.

The ‘Main to Main’ project was conceived to take this recognition a step further. A partnership between Memphis/Shelby County, TN and West Memphis/Crittenden County, AR and in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, ‘Main to Main’ established a 10-mile regional corridor to increase and improve alternative transportation options.

Allen & Hoshall was selected to be the Technical Project Manager for this $40 million project. The firm was responsible for coordinating more than a dozen other A/E firms and contractors to complete various segments of the project.  Allen & Hoshall also established design standards and ensured all project requirements were met.   Tasked with significant financial oversight and administrative responsibilities, Allen & Hoshall reviewed bids, facilitated proposal meetings, and made recommendations to the contracting authority. The Company was commended for its efficiency and insightful direction, as its team expedited the process and offered invaluable advice.

The Main to Main project was divided into six segments: Uptown, Main Street Mall, South Main Street, East Approach, Harahan Bridge, and the Arkansas Trail.  The historic Harahan Bridge was the centerpiece and most visually dramatic element of the corridor.  Originally constructed between 1914 and 1916, the Harahan Bridge remains an active double‐track mainline railroad. The project utilized this mile-long Mississippi River crossing, which created the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River, to tie into the nearby Bluffwalk and right of ways in Arkansas.

The improvements made to Memphis’ Main Street increased its civic importance as the central spine of Downtown Memphis.  This three-mile reinvestment project along the Downtown’s trolley corridor involved streetscape, utility, sidewalk, roadway, and drainage improvements. The Main Street corridor connects the Uptown and South Main neighborhoods and encompasses an 8‐block pedestrian‐transit mall, the Main Street trolley line, and a multi‐modal transit facility at each end.

The project strengthens and connects the main streets of each downtown using the historic Harahan Bridge as a restored centerpiece.  The Harahan Bridge was opened to rail and vehicular traffic in 1916 as one of the earliest spans crossing the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee.  The project reclaimed the existing roadway structure by rebuilding and re-purposing the bridge’s former roadway into a bicycle and pedestrian connection to the Main Streets in both Memphis and West Memphis.

The long-term outcomes engendered by this project include:

  • increased accessibility for residents, workers, and tourists
  • decreased fuel consumption and air pollution
  • health cost savings resulting from exercise
  • decrease flood damage costs
  • increased occupancy rates for commercial businesses that will support additional jobs
  • strengthened economies of both cities’ Main Streets

The Main to Main project will eventually link the existing Shelby Farms Greenline and the multi-state trails along Mississippi River levees, providing a new recreational/transportation corridor. Ultimately, this project will improve the region’s livability and sustainability components, increasing the region’s economic development potential by attracting new businesses and significantly improving the region’s State of Good Repair.

Complexities existed throughout the project due to the location, size, as well as the number of stakeholders and regulatory jurisdictions.  The project is located in a densely populated urban area with portions of the project being located along an active trolley system, on an active railroad bridge over the largest river in North America, near a major interstate, and through undeveloped floodplains.

Allen & Hoshall objectively and innovatively solved unexpected challenges throughout the multi-year, multi-phase project.  For instance, when it was discovered that unexpected portions of the Harahan Bridge were in need of major repairs, Allen & Hoshall worked with other consultants and construction contractors to create a solution to replace vital support members which were suspended 100 feet over the Mississippi River.

A 3D Model was created to increase public awareness and facilitate a better understanding of the design and how it would improve the current conditions.  Unlike typical modeling, this model took into account actual ground models, surveying data, existing utility plans, construction documents, landscaping plans and created an interactive environment communicating the impact of the project in the context of the surrounding area.  The 3D model offered technical and nontechnical stakeholders a much better understanding of the development plans by displaying them in the setting of the surrounding environment.  Due to the large number of designers, the model also provided a visual tool to quickly and easily ensure that each phase of the project was properly designed and aligned to minimize conflict in the construction phase.

From a government regulatory perspective, the Project Management/Design/ Engineering Team was faced with duplicity: two states, two counties, and two cities. In addition, two state departments of transportation held jurisdiction over the project.  The Federal Highway Administration, US Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers, and Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office were also involved.  From a private perspective, the team had to coordinate with and secure the approval of the Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the bridge structure itself but not the cantilevered roadbed where the pedestrian bridge is located.

The Main to Main project provides a great example of partnership on local, regional, and national levels. From the City of Memphis’ relationships with federal agencies such as HUD and the Strong Cities Initiative of the White House, to regional partners such as the Mississippi River Conservancy, to local partners such as the Memphis and West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Offices, the partners were all committed to making this project successful.  The partners included City of Memphis, TN; City of West Memphis, AR; State of Arkansas; West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization; Tennessee Department of Transportation; Crittenden County, AR; Shelby County, TN; State of Tennessee; Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization; Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department; Downtown Memphis Commission; Mississippi River Trail Association; and Mississippi River Conservancy.  With so many key players, there were great opportunities as well as numerous challenges in developing this multi-year project to ensure that all stakeholders were engaged and satisfied with the project goals and the solutions provided to meet these goals.

Under Allen & Hoshall’s leadership, the Main to Main Harahan Bridge project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule and 4% under budget, culminating in a celebration and ribbon-cutting on Oct. 22, 2016.

On opening weekend, more than 12,000 people crossed the new, improved bridge, which now provides easy access for pedestrians and cyclists between Memphis and West Memphis.  In the first six weeks of operation the facility was visited by 65,000 patrons.

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