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Access improvement updates

As we move closer to a solution for the park’s traffic and parking issues, we wanted to provide some quick updates on other projects that will enhance park accessibility.

N. ParkwayNorth Parkway Improvements
In 2013, Overton Park Conservancy applied for a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) grant on behalf of the City. TDOT awarded $422,000 to the City to enhance sidewalk access on the park’s perimeter, with the condition that the Conservancy raise another $87,000 in matching funds. These dollars were allocated to making long-needed improvements to the sidewalk along N. Parkway.

The project scope includes repairing the broken sidewalk along N. Parkway between McLean and University, and extending a new sidewalk to the park entrance down the street.

This project was originally slated to begin no sooner than 2017, but it was strongly recommended as a potential relief for Zoo overflow parking in the Overton Park Transportation & Parking Report. The City took a leadership role in beginning the project, which included converting a traffic lane to parking (netting 100 new spaces) and striping bike lanes. The City is also working to repair the existing sidewalk so that it will be safe and accessible.

The remainder of the project, including the sidewalk extension and installation of a crosswalk from University to the park side of the street, will be completed once the project clears TDOT’s contracting, design, and approval process.

Poplar & Cooper

Another key location for improved bicycle and pedestrian access is the park entrance at Poplar and Cooper. Currently, there is no landing spot for park visitors entering on bikes, in wheelchairs, or by foot, and no connection to the park’s trail system.

Poplar and Cooper
Photo courtesy of Ritchie Smith Associates

Thanks to a $25,000 grant to Overton Park Conservancy from First Tennessee Foundation, the City will be able to move forward with creating a safe, accessible entrance at this intersection. The project plans, which are being designed by Ritchie Smith Associates, call for a second crosswalk on the west side of the intersection, a protected bicycle crossing phase at the traffic signal, an enhanced landing pad for cyclists and pedestrians, and a new path connecting to the internal park road system.

The City of Memphis plans to add bike lanes on Cooper this year. The Poplar-Cooper Connector project at Overton Park will coincide with the City’s construction schedule.

Costs for this project total $346,000. This project is partially funded by a TDOT grant obtained by the Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The First Tennessee grant completes the Conservancy’s required match.

Poplar & Tucker
Poplar and TuckerThe park entrance at Poplar and Tucker is a primary entry point for cars visiting the park and its cultural attractions. It’s also the location of a heavily used transit stop on MATA’s #50 route, and a pedestrian and bicycle crossing frequently used by neighbors and Memphis College of Art students. The crosswalks at this seven-lane intersection are simply inadequate for such heavy use.

Overton Park Conservancy would like to create high-visibility crosswalks at this intersection, as well as install visitor-counting devices to capture the volume of pedestrians and cyclists using this entrance. We can use that data to obtain daily user counts, creating a baseline of usage that will help us plan for later improvements to the park entrance (such as installation of sidewalks). It will also serve as a pilot for tracking the number of users at other locations in the park, an important addition for both park planning and demonstrating the value of the park to the community.

We were recently approved for an ioby transit funding campaign to raise money for this project. Donations will be matched up to $150 per gift during this opportunity, which runs from July 25 to August 5. The project costs include $4,500 for high-visibility crosswalks, $6,200 for bicycle counters, and $7,500 for pedestrian counters. We will remind you of the opportunity to join this important campaign as it gets off the ground!

Of course, you can donate to these projects anytime by making a gift at and writing Access Improvements in the Special Instructions box.