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    New Sections of Wolf River Greenway Under Construction

    By:
    Tom Charlier

    From Mud Island to Raleigh, bulldozers are carving new sections of the Wolf River Greenway as construction of the 23-mile paved, multi-use trail through Memphis hits an unprecedented pace.

    The Wolf River Conservancy, which is building the greenway in a partnership with the city, has work underway on three segments of the trail covering a total of 3.7 miles and costing $4.5 million. All three sections should be completed and open to the public by late summer or early fall, officials with the group say.

    After years of planning and fundraising but no construction, "the pendulum is really swinging the other way," said Bob Wenner, chief financial officer for the conservancy.

    The greenway is a 12-foot-wide, landscaped trail for bicyclists and pedestrians that will trace the path of the Wolf through the city. When combined with trail systems in Germantown and Collierville, it will extend 36 miles from the eastern edge of Shelby County to the mouth of the Wolf at the Mississippi River.

    The city of Memphis completed an initial 2.6-mile section of the trail from Walnut Grove Road to Shady Grove Road. The remaining work is costing a total of $45 million, more than half of which is coming from private sources such as foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

     

    Last summer, the conservancy began work on a trail section covering nine-tenths of a mile through a tract off Epping Way Drive in Raleigh. The acreage, formerly an estate owned by a wealthy cotton merchant and famed big-game hunter, encompasses a lake and 120 acres of swamps and forests.

    Construction also began late last year on the westernmost segment, one that runs 1.27 miles from the north end of Mud Island to North Second Street. At the same time, crews are building a section covering 1.5 miles through John F. Kennedy Park in Raleigh.

    During 2017, work will get started on four to six more segments encompassing 7.3 miles, conservancy officials say. Some of the segments will be built by the city and others by the county, which will use recently awarded federal grant funds.

    Wenner said the conservancy still needs to raise $3.7 million from donors to complete the greenway. "As people begin to see what's happening (with construction), that should help," he said.

    Keith Cole, executive director of the conservancy, said the entire length of the trail should be finished by late 2019 or early 2020.

    "That remains our goal," Cole said.