The Big Dam Bridge Foundation has exceeded its money-raising goal for the proposed construction of restrooms on the Little Rock side of the nation’s longest pedestrian and bicycling bridge. Mark Rogers, foundation chairman, says the 67,000 dollars raised thus far came both from individual donations and from the Big Dam Bridge 100, an annual bicycle race. He says many individuals have been willing to donate because the port-a-potties currently in place have developed a reputation for uncleanliness.
“As I started to visit with people about donating...money, volunteering, time after time after time people would say, ‘oh absolutely. This is personal. I had to go in there last week and ahh, it was horrible,’” says Rogers.
Rogers estimates that his organization received nearly 600 signatures in support of a petition to build restrooms. Nearly 94 percent of the 1,000 respondents to an online survey about the plans expressed support. The foundation had hoped to raise 20,000 dollars in personal donations to go along with 30,000 dollars raised during the last Big Dam Bridge 100 by August 15th.
The foundation and the city also plan another development phase after the restrooms’ construction, consisting of elevated walkways and concession areas. And he says areas along both sides of the Bridge may eventually get further improvements.
“We’d like to repeat this process down at two-rivers bridge. That part gets a ton of usage and has two port-a-potties there. They need restrooms there. They need more parking there,” he says.
Rogers notes that the North Little Rock side of the river does have some permanent restroom facilities, but because of insufficient funding, electric lights have not been put in place.
The city of Little Rock is expected to match the amount raised by the foundation as it applies for a matching grant from the Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Department.
The initial phase of the restroom project is expected to cost about 240,000 dollars. The foundation and the city also plan another development phase after the restrooms’ construction, consisting of elevated walkways and concession areas.