Robin and I went to the Shelby County Commission Committee meeting on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. First off, getting there wasn’t an easy feat. We were able to find a parking spot on Adams and attempted to use the main entrance to the lobby off the mall. It was closed due to construction so we had to find our way around to the front and find the 2nd St. Entrance. More about this later. We made our way to the 4th floor where the Commissioners were meeting. They were running late which was a good thing for us since we had a hard time finding our way there. I texted Terry Roland with a question and he came and spoke to me. He informed me that he didn’t see any way of stopping this, but go ahead and ask my questions. So I filled out the card to speak and waited. They called me to the front and gave me 3 minutes to speak. I started out by telling them that I lived out on Benjestown and I had several questions about this project. I liked my little corner of the world the way it is. (Oh how selfish of Brenda to want to keep her corner of the world just the way it is...does she sound like a taxpayer or what?)
1) Where exactly will this bridge be? And what will it connect to?
2) Since this was part of a larger plan, where were the plans for the rest of this project?
3) Is this part of a federal project? Has this project already started construction?
4) What about the heavy construction trucks. Where would they be traveling?
I ended with just because you build it, it doesn’t mean they will come.
I went and sat down. First thing that happened was that Commissioner Baser jumped in and wanted to be a cosponsor of the resolution. He said he thought it was “fabulous”. I guess as an avid biker, what he wants is more important that what I want as a mere citizen. (Brenda, come on, you know how this works, the pot of gold at the end of the government rainbow is paying for this so what's the big deal?) Commissioner Shafer (Awww the voice of reason on the commission is so refreshing) thanked me and asked Tom Needham ~the head of Public Works~ to answer some of my questions. He said that the bridge was connecting Benjestown with Benjestown using the embankments from the old motorized bridge. This contradicts what Terry Roland told me over the phone on Monday. Mr. Needham said that there was already right of way that was purchased in the 80s. The project is scheduled to be completed in 4 years. (4 years??? if you believe that then I have some beach front property I can sell you on the Loosahatchie River) I didn’t get to hear all of the discussion because Commissioner Shafer had one of the staff come and get my name and phone number. She also came and talked to me. She wants to make sure that the community has lots of imput on this project ( More of the voice of reason...getting the public's input on this and not just the bikers, what a novel idea). Terry Roland said that there would be lots of meetings. When we left, someone else followed us out to get my email address. I think he said that he was the assistant county attorney. I should have gotten his card, but didn’t. The resolution passed in committee by unanimous vote. No mention of the taxpayer dollars that would be spent on the project. (There's a pot of gold, why do you insist on pretending there is not?) As an aside, when we were leaving ~because of our parking meter~ they were discussing the rape crisis center. I think this taxpayer money would be better spent on the rape crisis center than on this “bridge over troubled waters” as Robin has dubbed it.
After we left, Robin and I did some more on the ground investigation. We drove out the Frayser side of Benjestown Road. Yes, it goes through residential Frayser. We couldn’t get to the end of the road because it was posted private property; no trespassing; beware of dog; Do Not Enter and Stop on the fence. See attached pic. A little way in, there was another sign that said “No Gambling.” I’m wondering who owns this property and if they know they are about to get inundated with pedestrian and bike traffic. The “No Gambling” makes me go hmmmmm. (See Picture at the top)
We went to the north side of Benjestown Rd and followed it down to where the road stopped. About ¾ of a mile it is one lane road and then it becomes gravel and then stops. It is indeed a spot for dumping. Security should be a big issue. I can imagine all sorts of illegal activity here.
When looking for this old bridge that they will be replacing, I found this youtube video. Very interesting. (See at the bottom)
This video depicts a concept for a pedestrian bridge crossing the Loosahatchie River just north of Memphis, TN. The bridge features a two lane pedestrian path and a two lane path for light electric vehicles. The bridge would allow the first pedestrian connection to Shelby Forest State Park from downtown Memphis.
Monday is the full commission meeting at 1:30. Hope to see all there....