Big Dam Bridge
The Pulaski County Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, better known as the Big Dam Bridge, is the newest bridge to span the Arkansas River between Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas over the Murray Lock and Dam, and is open only to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The bridge is the longest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in North America that has never been used by cars or trucks. (NOTE: The longest in the United States is the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri at 5,350 feet (1,630 m), but it is a refurbished former highway bridge.) At 4,226 feet (1288 m.) in length, the Big Dam Bridge rises to 90 feet (27 m) over the surface of the Arkansas River and 30 feet (9.1 m) over the dam. The span over the river is 3,463 feet (1055 m.), with the ramps on either side of the river accounting for the rest of the length. The southern end of the bridge is near Little Rock's Murray Park, while the northern end is at Cook's Landing Park in North Little Rock. The nickname was given by Pulaski County Judge F.G. “Buddy” Villines, who was concerned about the financing needed and was quoted to say, "We're going to build that dam bridge." (He insisted he was referring to its location on a dam, and was not using the mild expletive.) The total construction cost was $12.8 million. The opening ceremony was on Saturday, September 30, 2006. Local politicians boasted the Big Dam Bridge will boost the local economy and also contribute to the local health of the population. The bridge and adjacent parks are used for several races including the Big Dam Bridge 100 cycling tour, the BDB Twilight 5k race, and the BDB Duathlon. The Federal Highway Administration gave one of its first Exemplary Human Environment Initiative awards to the bridge, and Illuminating Engineer Society gave its Award of Merit at the international level to the bridge's LED lighting design.