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    Binghamton, meet Germantown: New Wolf River Greenway segment links Memphis with suburbia

    Segment completes trail links Memphis, Germantown

    By Tom Charlier - The Commercial Appeal -

    On a Friday evening when they could have been battling traffic and burning gas to get to a restaurant, Clint and Mary Gervis instead were pedaling their bicycles beneath the leafy canopy of a newly finished section of the Wolf River Greenway.

    "Tonight, we're riding to dinner — to eat sushi," Clint Gervis said.

    Although it hasn't been formally dedicated yet, a mile-and-a-quarter trail section that completes a link between the middle of Memphis and suburban Germantown has been finished and open to bicyclists and pedestrians in recent weeks.

    The new segment extends eastward along the Wolf from near Shady Grove Road in Memphis to across from the Poplar Estates area in Germantown. Memphis completed a one-mile portion of the segment at a cost of $1.3 million, while Germantown spent about $107,000 adding less than 800 feet of new trail and widening or improving another 569 feet of existing trail, some of it on a raised boardwalk.

    Short as it might seem, the segment opens up extensive new routes for cyclists, allowing them to ride on off-street paved paths all the way from Binghamton in Memphis to Germantown, using the Shelby Farms Greenline, the trail and bridge network through Shelby Farms Park and the greenways along the Wolf in Memphis and Germantown.

    For the Gervises, it meant an easy ride from their home on the southern edge of Cordova to a sushi restaurant near Humphreys Boulevard and Walnut Grove.

    "I think it's wonderful," Mary Gervis said of the greenway. "We see more people out on bikes who never used to exercise."

    Mike Flowers, administrator of planning and development with the Memphis Division of Park and Neighborhood Services, said the city hasn't officially accepted the project yet, with some minor punch-list items remaining to be completed. A formal ribbon-cutting probably won't take place until mid- or late-August.

    In the meantime, the city won't restrict usage, he said.

    "Once you open up a route, you just can't keep people off it — it's impossible," Flowers said. "We don't even try."

    The completion of the segment follows last year's opening of a 1.6-mile section of greenway between Walnut Grove and Shady Grove in Memphis. The next segment to be built by the city is a mile-long piece along the Wolf between McLean and Hollywood, with design work under way and a contract expected to be awarded in the fall.

    Although it's expected to take two decades to complete, the Memphis greenway along the Wolf eventually will stretch 22 miles from the Mississippi River to Germantown. When links are established with Collierville's system, the trail will extend all across Shelby county.

    Germantown, which has a nearly three-mile-long Wolf greenway of its own, welcomes the link with Memphis, said George Brogdon, community services division director for the city. One of the primary goals of the trail is "connectivity" within the city and with neighboring communities, he said.

    Laura Adams, executive director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, said that since the completion of the segment she's seen many bicyclists pedaling through the park en route to the greenway.

    "Not only am I seeing it, but people are talking about it," she said.

    One of those who has been using it and talking about it is Bill Hogue of Germantown, who advises cyclists to give notice as they approach the many walkers and joggers on the trail.

    "I use it for exercise, mostly," Hogue said as he pedaled along the trail. "It's awesome — it's just a nice, smooth, flat ride."