It’s obvious from the worn patches in the grass surrounding Overton Park that people are walking the perimeter of the park. It’s just not always easy–or safe–to do so. There are steep slopes along portions of Poplar Avenue, and on East and North Parkway, pedestrians are pushed right to the edge of the curb along very busy streets. That’s why we’re proposing the creation of a new path that would line the perimeter of the entire park.
The new perimeter path would begin at Poplar & Tucker, following Poplar until heading north on East Parkway, where it would connect with the new plaza at Bike Gate. It would use the recently-built trail connection from the plaza to the existing Old Forest roads. Moving north through the Old Forest, users would have a choice of continuing along the Old Forest roads until reaching the park entrance to the east of the Zoo’s service area, or of linking up to a new section of trail that runs along N. Parkway. The existing N. Parkway sidewalk from McLean to University, which is in disrepair, would be repaired or replaced.
The perimeter path would end at McLean & Galloway, where visitors would take Galloway into the park and use existing park paths and sidewalks.
The perimeter path would be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, increasing access to the park for persons in wheelchairs. Its design would attempt to minimize impact on the park while opening up opportunities for recreation. We are conducting assessments of large trees in the park, and where trees are assessed to be in good health, the path will be constructed to meander around them.
Funding for this project has been included in the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Sustainable Transportation Improvement Program. Construction is slated to begin in 2016.
Perimeter Path Walk-Through
Here’s a look at how the perimeter path will flow through the park. It will begin at the Poplar & Tucker entrance and continue eastward on Poplar. Because this section is already fairly level, it will be one of the easiest to design and build.
Where Poplar intersects East Parkway, the trail will turn to the north. Here the trail will use the higher edge of the existing slope, preserving the stone Overton Park entrance feature.
The trail will continue down East Parkway, linking up with the new bicycle and pedestrian plaza. Instead of continuing directly down the street, users will be directed along the new trail that connects to the Old Forest roads.
Once on the interior roads, users will have several options:
- Heading directly to the intersection of North and East Parkways via a new section of trail
- Continuing a bit further on the Old Forest road and picking up the perimeter path that runs alongside N. Parkway
- Continuing on the Old Forest road until it reaches the Zoo’s service area, where they can then pick up the perimeter path or cross N. Parkway to head towards Rhodes College
A walkway will be added along N. Parkway, an already well-used travel route that’s unsafe due to its rough terrain and close proximity to the street. Where sidewalks already exist, they would be repaired or replaced.
The trail would turn south from N. Parkway onto McLean Blvd. Users would then turn east onto Galloway and enter the park.