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VOL. 131 | NO. 91 | Friday, May 6, 2016

Overton Traffic Plans On Display Saturday

By Bill Dries

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All roads in Overton Park except the one in front of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will be one-way streets Saturday, May 7, as the Overton Park Conservancy tries out some traffic and parking remedies on a busy day in the park.

Overton Park will have a different traffic flow and use a shuttle system to get people in and out of the park on a busy Saturday, May 7.

(Overton Park Conservancy)

Activities Saturday in different parts of the park include the Latino Memphis Festival, the centennial celebration at the Brooks and the Café du Memphis event, as well as the second weekend the Memphis Zoo’s new Zambezi River Hippo Camp exhibit has been open.

And the convergence will test of some of the parking and traffic suggestions made by three planning and design firms commissioned by the OPC to undertake a parking and traffic study of the entire park.

In addition to the one-way streets with parking on both sides of the roads facing in the same direction, Memphis Police will help direct traffic at park entrances and exits.

Cars will enter the park off Poplar Avenue at Tucker and Galloway/Prentiss Place Saturday.

Old Forest Lane and a part of Museum Drive will be closed to traffic and parking because those two roads are part of the Saturday events.

The conservancy is also reviving shuttles to the park, a measure the conservancy organized in 2014 between the park and the Overton Square garage.

The shuttles for Saturday’s events will run from First Baptist Church at Poplar and East Parkway, and from Idlewild Presbyterian Church at Union Avenue and Evergreen. Shuttles are $2 each way or $5 for an all-day pass. The buses will use two stops on the south end of the park – near the golf course clubhouse and near Brooks Museum.

The OPC will be watching shuttle usage closely to get an indication of how it could work on a regular basis or become a regular feature during peak periods of park usage. OPC executive director Tina Sullivan has said the peaks are relatively easy to predict with a coordination of event calendars.

“You need to encourage your visitors to use them and to make it feel like a welcome and fun part of the visitor experience,” she said in April during a meeting with The Daily News editorial board. “We think we can provide that.”

She also said the previous experiment with shuttles formed rapidly and came with some lessons as well.

“The decision was made to launch the shuttle right before Memorial Day, just after the park usage and zoo usage dropped off,” she said. “It got warm. People were off on vacation. The first lesson is run the shuttles when you have visitors.”

There are signs of other longer-term parking and traffic changes around the zoo.

City crews began restriping the south side of North Parkway Wednesday to add on-street parking on what is the park’s northern boundary.

The on-street parking is one of two recent agreements to come out of the mediation sessions between the zoo and the conservancy. They were announced April 28 by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

The Levitt Shell, which begins its spring series of shows in June and unveils recent renovations, is encouraging those coming to the shows to ride bikes to the park.

The shell is teaming with Revolutions Bicycle Co-op to show riders how to load bikes with picnic items, attach bike carriers, and the best routes to the park and the shell in particular.

Daily News publisher Eric Barnes is on the board of the Overton Park Conservancy. He did not participate in the writing or editing of this story.

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