UofM’s Pedestrian Cable Bridge Will Be Named for Hunter Harrison

 August 20, 2019 - The family of Hunter Harrison has made a gift to name the University of Memphis’ new pedestrian cable bridge in his memory.

 Harrison attended the UofM, but left to pursue a career as a railroader. During his career, Harrison served as CEO of four railways – the Illinois Central, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and CSX – before he passed away in December 2017. CN named a Center in his honor in Herff College of Engineering’s Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute.

The naming of the bridge will be formalized at the Sept. 4 meeting of the UofM Board of Trustees.

“Our family couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way to honor Hunter‘s memory,” the Harrison family said in a statement. “A Memphis native, he told stories about speeding across bridges as a cotton runner on his bike during his high school years. Although he moved from Memphis later in life, his life was entrenched in this city, from meeting the love of his life at a local YMCA to getting his first job at Frisco Railway. This bridge represents the metaphorical and physical connections he will always hold to this city throughout his life and in memoriam.”

The bridge, which spans Southern and Walker avenues and the railroad tracks, will allow students to cross between the north and south sides of campus safely. Two 105-foot-tall parallel pylons angle slightly across the southern edge of Southern Avenue near Echles. Ten strands of stainless steel cable fan out and down from the top of the weight-bearing towers, much like the Golden Gate Bridge. The structure, which is up to 20 feet wide and 23 feet above the railroad tracks, connects to the Alumni Mall.

“The Hunter Harrison Memorial Bridge will be a landmark at the University of Memphis and in the greater community, creating a vital connection across the railroad tracks as we prepare for the continuing growth of our campus,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “This remarkable gift extends Mr. Harrison’s legacy at the University, which includes students who benefitted from scholarships he funded through our Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute. After a long and distinguished career as a railway executive, it will be appropriate to see his name displayed prominently above the tracks.” 

There will be a ribbon cutting, ceremonial walk and reception Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m.