It’s a Big Dam Bridge.
So what is this Big Dam Bridge and why would anyone want to cross it? Well, it is big. It is on top of a dam. It is a pedestrian/cycling bridge. Who wouldn’t want to cross the Big Dam Bridge? Located in central Arkansas, it connects Little Rock to North Little Rock. At 4,226 feet/1288 meters long, it is the longest bridge in the world constructed solely for pedestrian and cycling traffic. It has never been used by trains or motor vehicles.
Is that the real name?
Yes, it is.
I have never heard my dad utter a single cuss word in my life. I’ll never forget the day he told me, “You and Joe should really check out the Big Dam Bridge.” I had to get him to repeat himself, and sure enough, that was the name.
When originally planned, the bridge was going to be named the Murry Lock and Dam Bridge, after the lock and dam that the bridge is built atop of. A local judge was worried about getting the bridge fully funded and was quoted exclaiming, “We’re going to build that dam bridge!” He was referring to the Murry Dam, not the expletive. Afterwards, the bridge had a new name.
When you cross the bridge, you really come to appreciate how big the Arkansas river is. The bridge just keeps going and going. There are benches scattered along the bridge to stop, rest and soak up the scenery.
Watch the boats and barges going through the lock and dam.
I must admit that this was fascinating to me. I loved watching the huge barges line up perfectly with the lock and slowly maneuver into position. Much of the Arkansas River is very shallow and has a large change in elevation as it makes its way to the Mississippi River. Previously, the Arkansas River was way too shallow for commercial traffic. In 1963, the construction of the Murray Dam began, allowing for a 9 foot minimum channel throughout the river system. The Arkansas River now accounts for over $1 billion in trade revenue a year. Personally, I just liked watching the boats!
Go fast on your bike or take a leisurely walk pushing a stroller. On the Big Dam Bridge, you’ll see both.
The Big Dam Bridge is a testament to how much Arkansas values the great outdoors. The bridge took eight years to complete at a cost of $12.8 million. Arkansas is by no means a wealthy state. It’s on the other end of the spectrum. But the people know that Arkansas’s natural beauty is its biggest asset. The people there value cycling. You’ll find miles and miles and miles of bike lanes and mountain bike trails. The Big Dam Bridge connects over 15 miles of trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock. Some of the more popular events at the bridge include: Big Dam Bridge 100 Mile Cycling Tour, Big Dam Bridge Twilight 5K Race, and the Big Dam Bridge Duathlon.
Important info to know:
There is ample free parking on either side of the bridge. Port-o-potty’s are also available. Watch for signs directing pedestrian and cycling paths on the bridge.
What do you think of Arkansas’s Big Dam Bridge? Please share by commenting below!
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