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VOL. 131 | NO. 217 | Monday, October 31, 2016

Wolf River Greenway Prepares to Move as River Causes Changes To Plan

By Bill Dries

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Before Thanksgiving, the Wolf River Conservancy should have a contract awarded to begin work on the trail and trail head at Kennedy Park and start work on the privately funded part of the 21-mile Wolf River Greenway.

State, local, federal and conservancy officials gathered in the Raleigh park last week to mark a $9 million grant from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. That money goes toward restoration and resiliency along the northernmost bend of the Wolf River in Shelby County, which includes but is not limited to Kennedy Park.

The $9 million is part of a $60 million grant awarded to Shelby County government earlier this year for various projects designed to guard against the kind of flooding the Wolf River and other tributaries of the Mississippi River saw locally in 2010 and 2011.

The conservancy’s part of the HUD grant money will be used specifically for Wolf River restoration and the greenway around Douglass Park in North Memphis and the connection between Epping Way and Kennedy Park, said Bob Wenner, greenway coordinator for the conservancy.

And Wenner said the restoration work comes as the Wolf is forcing some changes in the precise path of the greenway.

“That’s the big bend in the river. You’ve got the side with scour where the heavy activity is happening, which is the north side of the bank of the river,” he said. “And the sand and sediment is deposited on the opposite bank. When we surveyed that corridor … we realized there were some stabilization issues.”

The Epping Way property is on the western side of the river bend from Kennedy Park where canoes and kayaks will be able to access the river.

“We took a partial shift in the alignment of the trail and we moved the alignment of the trail from Epping Way to Austin Peay,” Wenner said. “We actually moved the trail out closer to James Road in front of apartment complexes before we brought it back closer to the river.”

In the process, the conservancy and its contractors will deal with a lack of sidewalks in the area.

“We’re going to make some improvements there from the standpoint of the bus stops and actually make the trail seem like it’s a much wider sidewalk than a typical sidewalk,” he said.

When the greenway moves under Austin Peay Highway on its way east to Kennedy Park, it will shift closer to the river’s northern bank on the eastern side of the bend, “which sort of has some right-of-way issues that haven’t been worked out,” Wenner said. “There are some uses at the top of the bank that frankly are going to be in jeopardy of losing their foundation.”

The conservancy has been monitoring movement of the bank for several months with measuring devices in the ground “to determine exactly how we go about building the trail and what needs to be done from a very technical engineering perspective,” he added.

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