Pulaski County and other local government officials will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Big Dam Bridge Thursday. Construction on the bridge was completed in 2006 at a cost of $12.8 million. At more than 4,200 feet in length, it spans the Murray Lock and Dam 90 feet above the Arkansas River between Little Rock and North Little Rock. Officials say it’s the longest exclusively pedestrian and cycling bridge in North America.
Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde says it has helped connect a network of trails, namely the Arkansas River Trail.
“I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for the Big Dam Bridge, the vast of web of activity and opportunity for recreation and exercise would never really have gotten off the ground, not to the extent that it has,” Hyde says.
The bridge also figures in the annual Big Dam Bridge 100, the largest bicycling competition in the state. Hyde says the bridge costs slightly less than $100,000 a year to maintain.
Mason Ellis, president of Bicycling Advocates of Central Arkansas, hopes local governments can continue to invest in infrastructure to benefit physical activity.
“There’s still sections of the Arkansas River Trail, especially on the Little Rock side, that are not complete yet and are still hazardous... And the Big Dam Bridge is a testament to what these types of investment and cooperative partnerships and developing this infrastructure can bring,” Ellis says.
The bridge is connected to an approximately 16 mile loop of the 88 mile Arkansas River Trail.