Skip Rutherfold heaves huge sigh of relief, feds fund Rock Island bridge renovation

WHEW… that was a close one!!

Washington– U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced $2.6 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to boost competitiveness and create new jobs for Arkansas residents.

The investment includes $2 million to the city of Little Rock to convert the old Rock Island Railroad Bridge to a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that will improve the potential for business expansion and development by connecting Little Rock’s major attractions, including the Clinton Presidential Center, Heifer International, the Verizon Center, Dickey Stephen baseball stadium, the River Market commercial district, the Argenta Arts District, and Farmers Markets in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. To improve the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences BioVentures Center and promote life sciences, an additional $600,000 EDA grant will fund a major incubator that is expected to create 20 jobs and generate $258,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s economic competitiveness,” Locke said.  “We won’t rest until every American who wants a job can get one.  These grants will create jobs and advance Arkansas’ competitiveness by supporting innovation and improving the business climate across the state.”

“The conversion of the historic railroad bridge into a pedestrian pathway will give Central Arkansas a distinctive landmark and will complete one of the best urban trail systems in the country,” said President Bill Clinton. “By connecting important destinations, including my Presidential Center, the bridge will also support revitalization efforts in downtown Little Rock.”

“The renovation of this bridge will be a capstone accomplishment for Little Rock and our trail system,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. “This EDA grant award provides the final funding needed to begin construction.”

“The Rock Island Railroad Bridge project has been a priority for the city of Little Rock, and I am pleased that Recovery Act funding is being utilized on this type of local initiative,” said U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln. “The conversion of the old Rock Island Railroad Bridge into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare will make travel around many of Little Rock’s major attractions more efficient, while also allowing people to get out and move around outdoors. In making this type of transportation improvement, we will also create job opportunities for Arkansans seeking work and add additional incentives for businesses to locate in Little Rock.”

“The Rock Island Bridge project is an important step in connecting the Little Rock and North Little Rock communities as well as the Arkansas River Trail System, and it will create jobs and improve the quality of life for residents in both areas.  Similarly, the UAMS BioVentures incubator will help generate good jobs and foster economic development opportunities.  These funds from EDA will help both projects become a reality, and that’s a win-win for central Arkansas,” said U.S. Senator Mark Pryor.

“The Economic Development Administration has made great investments in Arkansas, such as in the Port of Little Rock, and we now have two more.  I know that Secretary Locke was very impressed with Arkansas when he visited here last year, and I am very pleased to see these funds go towards great projects contributing to the vitality of Central Arkansas,” said U.S. Representative Vic Snyder.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (

This year, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) marks 45 years of public service, with a mission of leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that partners with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and innovation.‪


About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

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