The Junction Bridge is an old railway bridge spanning the Arkansas River between North Little Rock and Little Rock, Arkansas. The bridge was converted in 2008 by the Junction Bridge Facilities Board for pedestrian and bicycle use as part of the Arkansas River Trail. Its connects the popular River Market with the Argenta Historic District, ALLTEL Arena, and Dickey-Stephens Park. The bridge also completes a loop on the Arkansas River Trail formed by trails on the north and south sides of the river and the pedestrian-friendly Big Dam Bridge located seven miles to the west. The bridge reopened to pedestrian traffic on May 17, 2008, with a ribbon-tying event symbolizing the new connection between the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock.
North Little Rock paid $225,000 for their share of the project. Little Rock allocated $447,000. A matching grant of $1.6 million from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, $3 million in federal grant money, and Pulaski County paid the remainder of the $5.8 million project. The engineering assessment of the bridge, which included underwater study, was done by McClelland Consulting Engineers. McClelland Engineers also worked out a method to raise the lift span once used to allow ships to pass through and secure it permanently in place. Reconstruction and retrofitting on the bridge deck was accomplished by May Construction Company.
The Junction Bridge Collaborative, composed of county board officials and local citizens, is currently exploring the idea of turning the structure into a "inhabited bridge" complete with attached restaurant, hotel, or office building on the North Little Rock side. The collaborative is exploring the option of pulling a number of stainless steel rail cars onto the bridge as covered restaurant spaces. The bridge is under the immediate management of the Bridge Facilities Board.
The Little Rock Junction Railway Company formed on December 8, 1883, to create a connecting link between the Little Rock, Mississippi River, and Texas Railway and the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railway. Plans called for the bridge foundation to cover much of La Petite Roche, namesake of the city. The Junction Bridge was constructed by the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1884. Soundings for the first pier were made on February 4, 1884, by construction engineer L.D. McGlashan. The bridge opened to locomotives on December 8, 1884. The railroad line soon fell into the hands of the Union Pacific Railroad. Traffic over the bridge ceased in 1984. The Union Pacific Railroad donated the bridge to the City of Little Rock on December 28, 2001.
- Samantha Friedman, "High Profile: James Edward McClelland Jr.," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 18, 2008.
- Stacy Hudson, "Riverfront Pedestrian Bridge Near Completion," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 22, 2008.
- Pryor Jordan, "Bridge's Uniting of Cities Honored," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 18, 2008.
- Alan Leveritt, "Creating a Landmark: The Work to Make an Abandoned Bridge a Symbol," Arkansas Times.
- "Our Town: Little Rock Notebook," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 1, 2008.
- Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, "Executive Summary: Junction Bridge Conceptual Design Report," February 11, 2004.