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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Shelby Farms Greenline is getting bigger and the park is expected to get even better soon

The Shelby Farms Greenline is getting bigger and the park is expected to get even better soon
By:  Michael Lander

The Shelby Farms Greenline trail officially opened to the
public on Jun 16, 2016, extending it by 4.15 miles to a
total of 10.85 miles, altogether.

The immensely popular Shelby Farms Greenline recently just got a little bigger as the park, itself, is continuing to steadily get even better.

The park is nearing the end of a $70 million project, which, when completed, will greatly enhance not only the look and feel of it, but it will make it an even better experience for all of its visitors. 

Overlooking a newly designed Patriot Lake will be a
brand new visitor and event center, pavilions, and areas
for people to gather and to have picnics.

Most of the improvements that are currently underway at
Shelby Farms Park are centering around what has been called the “Heart of the Park.”  This project includes new facilities and amenities and a new visitor center around a completely new and much larger Patriot Lake, which will become the main centerpiece for the park.

The “Heart of the Park” area, and its newly transformed Patriot Lake will be, according to the Shelby Farms Conservancy, a gathering place for health, recreation, relaxation, and a big water adventure that will be also be an environmental teaching tool, and so much more.

Shelby Farms Park is investing $70 million in transforming
the park into something that should offer plenty of outdoor
and water-related activities for visitors and giving them
even more reasons then before to spend time there.

As everyone anxiously awaits the grand opening of the Heart of the Park in the fall of this year, the Conservancy has already put smiles on the faces of those who love its multi-use greenline trail when they officially opened a 4.15 mile, $4.4 million eastward extension of it during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jun 16, 2016.

With this addition, the Shelby Farms Greenline trail is now 10.85 miles long and it runs from Tillman Road in
Binghampton to a former railroad train depot near the intersection of Macon Road and B Street in Cordova.

The Shelby Farms Conservancy spent $56 million on the
Heart of the Park project, in and around Patriot Lake,
which the expect to be the centerpiece and one of the
biggest attractions to Shelby Farms Park.

There will be even more to look forward to in the future of the greenline when the Conservancy will add yet another two more miles to the existing trail, going eastward toward Lenow Road, beginning in August 2017.

The latest 4.15 mile extension to the greenline not only offers even more of what trail users already know and love about the greenline, but it also gives them more wooded areas, with a tree-lined trail with plenty of shade and convenient access to and from Germantown Parkway.

The new 4.15 mile extension of the Shelby Farms Greenline
has trees lining a significant portion of it, giving some
much-needed shade to pedestrians and cyclists on hot
summer days.

It is where the trail intersects with Germantown Parkway that cyclists and pedestrians will encounter the greatest single expenditure to the trail system, to date, and the most unique feature along any Memphis area trail consisting of a protected corral (with a concrete barrier wall all around) in the median of this busy roadway.

The corral was specifically designed with safety in mind and one that wouldn’t have a negative impact on the flow of vehicular traffic on Germantown Parkway.

Visitors to the Shelby Farms Greenline
can travel 10.85 miles to or from
Binghampton to Cordova on a
relatively flat, paved surface.

When trail users come up to this roadway, they will find a two phase, signalized crossing in which they will first hear an audible command to wait, followed by a rapid clicking sound alerting them that it is safe to cross.  This will get them to the corral where they will wait until they get the signal to cross again to the other side.

It takes about four to five minutes to get completely across from one side of the road to the other.

The most expensive and unique feature on the 10.85 mile
Shelby Farms Greenline is the protected corral and
crossing system at Germantown Parkway.

Even though a bridge may have been a more desirable option than what was ultimately installed at Germantown Parkway, the exorbitant cost of a bridge would appear to have been the biggest factor as to why this was not done, especially since it would have also had to comply with all Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements.

This new 4.15 mile extension will not only connect Shelby Farms to even more communities to the east of it, but after the
Wolf River Greenway is extended 18.4 miles to downtown Memphis by mid-2018, trail users will eventually be able to walk, run, or ride their bikes from nearby Memphis municipalities, over the Harahan Bridge, to West Memphis, Ark. and beyond on a seemingly endless network of trails.

A protected corral in the median at Germantown Parkway
allows pedestrians and cyclists to wait until they are able
to safely cross to the other side of what is, ordinarily, a
very busy road.

Inside the park, itself, around Patriot Lake, there will be two new 2.34 mile paved trails, one of which will be a faster track for bicycles.  These trails will encircle a lake that will nearly be double in size, from what it was before.

Aside from the changes to Patriot Lake, the Heart of the Park will feature a First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center, a FedEx Event Center with a kitchen restaurant, an event pavilion, a boat kiosk, an additional bike rental facility, and new lakeside pavilions or crickets with covered spaces for picnics, family reunions, parties, and gatherings at the edge of Patriot Lake.
Even though a bridge or a tunnel may have been two
possible options for getting around Germantown
Parkway, the most viable and economically
sound one was to create a protected corral,

When all the current work is done, by the fall of 2016, Shelby Farms Park will be more user and visitor-friendly than ever before.  Cyclists, and others, will have a place to stop and eat, a better place to ride, an ever-expanding access to the park via a bicycle, more bicycles to rent, and new and improved trails for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Even with all the construction work that is going on at the park, it is still a great place to ride through with only a minimal amount of areas that are blocked off because of the work that is being done there.
Cyclists and pedestrians on the Shelby Farms Greenline
have about a 4 to 5 minute wait to get completely
across Germantown Parkway.

Click here for on-going construction and possible detour information.

None of this should be enough to deter bike riders from riding to and through the park.  While there, cyclists can see the park as it takes shape and see it being transformed into what will ultimately be a premier recreational and entertainment oasis in the heart of our magnificent and thriving city.

The former railroad train depot in Cordova is
currently the end of the line for the Shelby
Farms Greenline, but it is expected to go
another 2 miles eastward toward Lenow
Road in the future.
To see a video of what Shelby Farms Park and the Heart of the Park will look like after all of the work is done, click here.

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