JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – The City of Jacksonville is preparing for an airshow that’s exciting many about its return.
‘Thunder Over the Rock’ is expected to draw in thousands and the potential financial boost has business others thrilled. However, with the tidal wave of people officials at the police department are warning drivers of traffic.
Tech Sergeant Kyle Dewald, who is also the Operations Deputy Director says the airshow is a huge life for the community.
The air show is happening Oct. 21 and 22 at Little Rock Air Force Base, returning after 5 years in part due to COVID-19.
“When you think about Jacksonville it’s a really small city, so we’re talking about 200,000 people are going to be coming through our doors for the air show,” Dewald said.
The Jacksonville Mayor Jeff Elmore said that the city is extremely excited for the return of the Thunder Over the Rock air show at Little Rock Air Force Base.
“Jacksonville will not know the economic impact from the Thunder Over the Rock air show until a couple of months afterwards,” Elmore said.
However, the impact from Thunder Over the Rock is much more than economic. It is also a sense of pride and community that comes with the Thunder Over the Rock air show, as everyone unites together to watch the acts in amazement.
Although it will take a couple of months for the city to know the total economic impact the air show will have on the community, according to Little Rock Air Force Base’s website in 2022, the base had a total value of economic impact of 1.79 billion dollars and that was without the airshow.
Kory Shak who is a cook at ‘Wings on Tha Run’ says with the expected amount of visitors coming into the city they’re looking forward to potential customers.
“Wings on Tha Run is about to make some good money and people are about to get some good chicken.” Shak said.
But the food and crowd are not the only expected surge, so is the traffic.
“Most of our traffic that will be for the air base that is coming to the show will be on northbound which exit 10b and 11b and on southbound using exit 11,” Lt. Ray Jones with the Jacksonville Police Department said.
Lt. Jones says if drivers are going through that area they need to be prepared.
“Have water especially if you have kids in the vehicle, have water and snacks and make sure your vehicle is filled up with gas and (check your tires in case of) flat tires. Always expect the unexpected,” Lt. Jones said.
The JPD also asks local drivers to avoid the North First and T.P. White intersection, as well as the John Harden Drive and Vandenberg intersection.
Traffic and turn lanes at these intersections will be altered to help with traffic flow to and from the show, officials stated.
Local drivers can use the James Street overpass to avoid air show traffic, JPD officials stated. If driving to Walmart, take the overpass and then leave onto Gregory Street, and take consecutive rights onto Marshall Road, Vandenberg and John Hardin Drive, officials stated.