A bicycle and pedestrian bridge or tunnel across University somewhere between I-630 and Midtown Ave. would have local and regional benefits. Locally, this bridge would allow visitors of St. Vincent's Hospital and War Memorial Park an opportunity to shop and eat at the businesses immediately west of University Ave., including businesses within the new District at Midtown development (Fig. 1). Even though there is a crosswalk across University at the northern portion of the Midtown Ave. intersection, bicycles and pedestrians typically do not cross University in this region due to the crosswalk length (72 ft. across Midtown, 95 ft. across University), number of traffic lanes (four across Midtown, seven across University), and heavy vehicular traffic volumes (35,000 ADT across University) (Fig. 2). Regionally, this is an important link for the proposed Midline route, which would create a long sought and much needed east-west bicycle and pedestrian corridor through the heart of Little Rock. A safe and convenient University crossing would increase the use of the entire Midline system.
Figure 1. This intersection is intimidating for someone on foot or on bike.
A tunnel or a bridge across University Ave. will be expensive. Justifying this crossing may be a challenge without an installed Midline to connect. For this reason, the University Crossing may end up being one of the last pieces of the Midline to be installed. Until the University Crossing is installed, users can cross at the Midtown Ave. intersection (Fig. 2). Use of the Midline and increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic across this intersection will further justify construction of the University Crossing. Of course, overall Midline use will increase after the University Crossing is complete.
Figure 2. Aerial view of S. University Ave. and Midtown Ave. intersection.