The Medical Mile is a trail connecting the Little Rock River Market District with the Arkansas River Trail in Riverfront Park. The trail segment - sponsored by the National Park Service River Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, Heart Clinic Arkansas, and the Little Rock Department of Parks and Recreation - cost $2.1 million to build and was completed in December 2003. Said Little Rock mayor Jim Dailey at the dedication ceremony, "When these physicians agreed to help raise money for this project, they made a two year commitment. That was more than three years ago. The excitement within the healthcare community has been so - to use a medical term - contagious, that the project has grown beyond its original scope." Governor Mike Huckabee, who has lost a great amount of weight in part by using the trail, noted, "The Medical Mile is a great inspiration to lure people out to the trail, and once they're out there they're hooked."
The Medical Mile incorporates a number of special artistic elements by Debra Moseley Lord, including a thirteen hundred foot mural, a promenade, and the St. Vincent Plaza. Headwaters Partnership for the Arkansas River Trail coordinator Terry Eastin said that he thought of the Medical Mile as "an outdoor linear health museum that uses a variety of artistic and architectural expressions to promote the health benefits of physical activity, and other wellness themes."
The Medical Mile is Eastin's brainchild with cardiologist Robert Lambert. Lambert was initially challenged in responding to high rates of heart disease in the state. He has said that "[p]roviding attractive places to exercise is probably going to be one of our most effective tools in combating the obesity epidemic." With Eastin, Lambert challenged his private cardiology group to raise an initial $350,000 for the effort to complete a downtown section of the Arkansas River Trail. Donors received "permanent 'soft advertising'" in the form of museum exhibit signage in return for their contributions.
The contractor on the Medical Mile was Bell-Corley Construction.
- Keith Merckx, "Arkansas River Trail: The Trail That Has It All," Rails-to-Trails Magazine, (Fall 2007): 8-13.