Across the Bridge 

Historian Jimmy Ogle launches Mississippi River bridge tours.

You don't have to wait for the Harahan Bridge greenline to be constructed to walk across the Mississippi River.

Historian Jimmy Ogle will begin offering bridge tours across the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge on Sunday, April 22nd, on the pedestrian path attached to the I-55 vehicular traffic bridge.

"It's a legal sidewalk, and you don't have to walk all the way to the other side to enjoy the high view of the river and look back at the bluffs and the [Valero] refinery," said Ogle, who hosts tours all over downtown in his role as community engagement manager for the Riverfront Development Corporation.

Ogle said he hopes the bridge tours can acclimate pedestrians to the idea of crossing a massive river bridge on foot since the proposed Harahan Bridge greenline would create a walking and biking path across the adjacent Harahan rail bridge.

"It's a little scary because the expansion joints make the bridge vibrate, and you have all those trucks whizzing by at 70 miles an hour," Ogle said.

But he assures that his bridge walks will be safe and monitored. There's no limit on how many people can attend the free tour, but if the group is particularly large, Ogle said he'll take people over the bridge in small groups.

"We'll watch the cars go by and make it fun for people," Ogle said.

While on the walk, Ogle plans to talk about the history of the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, the Harahan Bridge, and the Frisco Bridge.

The tour will meet at 2 p.m. at Crump Park. The same bridge tour will be repeated on April 28th and May 12th and 19th. There are stairs and a grassy slope leading to the bridge sidewalk, but Ogle said he will assist anyone who may need help getting to the sidewalk in a wheelchair.

"It's not [Americans with Disabilities Act]-compliant, but maybe this attention will bring that to light," Ogle said.

Also in preparation for the Harahan greenline project, Ogle has scheduled a series of riverfront park tours that will take walkers along the river bluffs and into little-known and hard-to-find city parks.

"Just about everybody knows about Mud Island and Tom Lee Park and Greenbelt Park, but when you get down to the South Bluffs area, you've got some neat areas on the high bluffs that are really hard to find," Ogle said.

The first Riverfront Park Series tour will begin at Chickasaw Heritage Park, south of the National Ornamental Metal Museum on Saturday, April 21st, at 10 a.m.

"We'll tour the grounds of the Metal Museum and the grounds of the old Marine hospital, and then we'll end up at Crump Park," Ogle said.

Other riverfront tours will meet at Martyrs Park on April 28th, Confederate Park on May 12th, and Greenbelt Park on May 19th. Each will lead walkers into smaller downtown neighborhood parks and landmarks, such as the Gayoso Bayou and Ashburn-Coppock Park.

For more information on the bridge tours or riverfront tours, visit JimmyOgle.com.

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