The South Parkway restored landscaped median plan addresses pedestrian safety and connectivity issues see on a segment of South Parkway between I-240 and Lauderdale Street. This section of South Parkway no longer has a landscaped median as can be found on the majority of the Parkway system in residential areas. The removal of this section’s landscaped median has resulted in a 75-foot wide thoroughfare that encourages high-speed traffic and has only two marked pedestrian crossings in its one-mile length. Additionally, this highway-like design, and South Parkway’s crossing of I-240, has allowed the street to become a route for heavy trucks and tractor-trailers to access the interstate from industrial areas south of downtown Memphis.
The South Memphis community came together in 2009 to generate a resident-led neighborhood plan called South Memphis Revitalization Action Plan (SoMeRAP). This plan, which was adopted by Memphis City Council as the official plan for the neighborhood in March 2010, engaged over 1,000 unduplicated residents, 9 area churches, and numerous local businesses to create a vision of revitalization for the community. A major resident concern through creation of the plan was to ensure streets are safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. South Parkway was of particular concern, as it is home to 5 large churches, 4 elementary schools, and the only public park within walking distance to area residents. Residents identified the restoration of the landscaped median on South Parkway as a tool to reduce traffic speeds, increase pedestrian safety, and beautify the neighborhood while providing additional green space. Residents specified that this overhaul of South Parkway should include repaving, adding bike lanes, and enhancing pedestrian facilities in addition to the restored median.
The final design is for a median that spans from the intersection of Lauderdale and South Parkway at the east, and connects to the existing median at South Parkway and I-240. In that span six vehicular crossings are cut out. Those include:
- McMillan Street (access for Southside Park)
- Orleans Street (access for Lincoln Elementary)
- Webb Street (access for Monumental Baptist Church)
- Leland Street
- Mississippi Boulevard (existing red light)
- Driveway access for New Bethel M.B. Church and St. Andrew AME Church