The Junction Bridge is a pedestrian bridge in downtown Little Rock, and a prominent feature of the Little Rock skyline. A former railway bridge, this bridge is now open to pedestrians, cyclists and skaters. While the bridge does connect to the Arkansas River Trail, it is mostly used as a tourist bridge. You must use an elevator or stairs to cross the bridge. The new Clinton Presidential Park Bridge near the Clinton Library closes the River Trail loop without the use of an elevator. These two bridges are part of the “six bridges” project, making Central Arkansas home to one of the largest sets of connected trails and paths in the country.
The Junction Bridge was originally constructed in 1884 as a railroad bridge connecting the northern and southern Union Pacific railway lines. It was built on “Point of Rocks,” home of the “Little Rock” or Le Petite Roche. In October 1872, construction began at Point of Rocks, and several tons of rock were removed from the landmark.
According to a marker at the site, the Gazette urged readers to “take a photograph of the ‘Little Rock’ from which our city derives its name, before it is destroyed by the ruthless hand of civilization.” You can still see a part of the rock there, at Le Petit Roche Plaza, near the Little Rock entrance of the Junction Bridge.
In 1985, the bridge was closed to rail traffic. It was ceded to the city of Little Rock in 1999. It was reopened as a pedestrian bridge in 2008.
There are bridge entrances on Washington Street in North Little Rock and in Riverfront Park in Little Rock, in the River Market.
All River Trail bridges are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week unless otherwise posted. Leashed pets are allowed on the River Trail. Please clean up after them.
The Junction Bridge is believed to be the only pedestrian bridge in the United States to include a lift span. The lift span has been locked into place, 38 feet above the water, to allow river traffic to pass. The lift span weighs more than 2 million pounds, and is a 360 foot long section of the bridge. You can walk across the bridge by taking elevators or stairs up to the lift span.
The entire bridge is 1,800 feet long. The total cost to re-purpose the bridge and turn it into a pedestrian walkway was $5,800,000.
The blue areas on the bridge are the areas that have been refinished, but much of the old paint and structure was left to preserve the historical significance of the bridge.
Things to Do:
The Junction Bridge is perfect for tourist because it’s a part of Riverfront Park, and the entrance is right beside the the River Market. Even if you don’t want to complete the 14 mile loop on the River Trail, you can take a morning walk through Riverfront Park to the other side of the river.
The bridge has benches so you can sit and take in the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises over the river. Some of the best views of the river can be had on the Junction Bridge.
The Six Bridges:
One of the most prominent features of the Little Rock skyline has always been the “six bridges” over the Arkansas River (photo of the six bridges from the Butler Center). The Clinton Presidential Center was designed to look like a bridge in reference to that skyline. Those six bridges are the Baring Cross Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Main Street Bridge, the Junction Bridge, the I-30 Bridge and Rock Island Bridge.
Another set of bridges is being designed to connect the parks along the Arkansas River and allow people to hike or bike from the Clinton center to Pinnacle Mountain and the Ouachita Trail. Four of those bridges are open: the Two Rivers Bridge, the Big Dam Bridge, The Junction Bridge and Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.