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    Clinton Presidential Park Bridge construction to begin

    9:48 PM, May 28, 2010   |    comments
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    Former President Bill Clinton came to town Friday to break ground on the project.

    "When it's done, it'll be exciting but it'll also prove that the people who live here imagined a better future and made it happen," said Clinton.

    The bridge will be an extension of the Clinton Presidential Library, making a walkway across the river into North Little Rock.

    "This will allow for continuous pedestrian movement from one part to another, completing that 14.2-mile park slope," Clinton Foundation Spokesman Jordan Johnson said.

    The Clinton Presidential Park Bridge has been sitting across the Arkansas River since 1899 after several name and ownership changes.

    The Clinton Foundation is spending $10.5 million to rebuild it.

    "It's going to come to grade, meet with the street here, at the Clinton center and also grade at the North Little Rock side," Johnson said.

    The bridge will also have a ramp that'll come down and turn back west heading downtown.

    Bicyclists, walkers and all kinds of pedestrians will have the option to go straight off the bridge into celebration circle and access the library and Heifer International or head west and meet with the river trail.

    The Economic Development Administration contributed about $2 million to the project.

    'It's a meaningful investment for us in the sense that it helps build a stronger community, a more attractive place for people to want to not just visit but to actually live here to create businesses here," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez.

    Little Rock City Director Dean Kumpuris adds, "It'll bring more people out here. It'll be another attraction for the people of our community, visitors and people who are just coming by."

    More than just a physical rebuilding, the Clinton Foundation says, the bridge will symbolically represent two cities connecting to revive the river area.

    In addition to the bridge, the foundation has been working on a $2.5 million wetlands project.

    It began May 6, and has temporarily stopped for Riverfest. It'll resume after this weekend.

    The bridge is expected to be completed in a year.

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