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Bridging Riverfest

The Junction Bridge provides a new route.

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Concert-hopping from Little Rock to North Little Rock might be easier this year, thanks to the Junction Bridge, the former railroad span that opened last Saturday as a pedestrian bridge.

The bridge, built in 1884, hasn't been used in 20 years. The renovation, paid for with federal, state, county and North Little Rock and Little Rock city funds, cost $5.8 million.

Like many railroad bridges, it features a lift span, a raised portion that allows barge traffic to pass. It's believed to be the only lift span bridge in the country in use as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.

From the Little Rock side, pedestrians can take five flights of stairs or an elevator up about 38 feet (about three stories) to the 360-foot-long span. Only six to eight people can fit comfortably inside the elevator, so don't be surprised to see a line.

Festival-goers from each side will be able to pass freely. The North Little Rock side will also serve as a festival entrance point, where passes will be for sale at a gateway on the bridge.

On Sunday night, the bridge will close at 8:30 p.m. Then, 1,500 special ticket-holders will be allowed on the bridge to watch the Osborne Family Fireworks display. Billy Ann Myer, the chairman of the Pulaski County Bridge Facilities Board, said she didn't know exactly to whom the free tickets would be go. Several hundred will be given away on various local radio stations leading up to the event.

Riverfest-goers will also get a first glimpse at the playground development at Riverfront Park. Much of the work, the new pavilion included, isn't complete and will be fenced off, but the splash pad, an area with water spraying out for running through or cooling off, will be open along with what the Parks Department is calling the “space net,” a large climbing net for children.

 

 

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