NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If the sun is shining, you’ll find people riding in Burns Park. It’s normally busy with locals and visitors like Steve and Sherry Watson.
“It’s our dream to full-time RV and see the country,” Steve Watson said.
Their travels brought them to North Little Rock.
“Just fell in love with the place and particularly this bike path,” Watson said mid-way through their ride to Big Dam Bridge.
After days of storms, they were ready for a ride by the Arkansas River, and they’re getting it in just in time.
In a few days, where they’re riding will be underwater.
“The south end of Burns Park which is along the river which includes the Victory Lake, the dog park and the soccer complex will be closed as of Friday,” Jeff Caplinger, the North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Project Coordinator said.
Caplinger is preparing for the river to rise. He and his team have moved soccer goals into parking lots and closed the entrance to the kayak ramp.
“The river level is mostly affected by the rains we get out west towards Russellville, Fort Smith and throughout Oklahoma,” he said. The recent rain nearby he says is not what’s causing the river rise.
Back in 2016, the river rose to 25 feet. This week, The Army Corps of Engineers says they’re anticipating it to rise by 21 feet. While it isn’t as high, it’s still 13 feet above normal.
Also, the water is only one concern. In the past the clean up took as many weeks to finish as the water did to recede, Caplinger said.
“One portion of the Arkansas River Trail we had 3 to 4 feet of just debris along the trail that we had to move out of the way,” he said. The fire department and road crews all pitch in the help when the debris is that bad.
While Caplinger expects a few busy weeks ahead of him, the Watsons are enjoying the trails while they’re accessible and then…
“We’ll be heading down the road!” Watson said.
Some main areas that will be closed come Friday include Victory Lake, the dog park and soccer complex within Burns Park.
Also, the NLR entrance to the Big Dam Bridge will be closed, as well as the skate park and Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.
However, the golf course, disc golf course, Funland and hiking trails will stay open. For a full list of areas expected to be impacted in North Little Rock, click here.