As a relief from all of the turmoil that took place within the past week including starvation in Somalia, riots in London, a raging war in Afghanistan that continues to deteriorate and the wild ride on wall street, my wife and I took advantage of the cooler cloudy day yesterday to try out the newly opened Two Rivers Pedestrian Bridge here in Little Rock.
Officially dedicated on Friday, July 8th, at a cost of $5.3 million, 80% of which was paid by federal tax dollars (more on this later) and 20% by Pulaski County, this is the second such bridge to be constructed over a body of water that opens up a whole new range of recreational possibilities for our citizens. The first, The Big Dam Bridge, completed in October 2006 at a total cost of $ 13 million, again 80% financed with federal tax revenue, was built on top of the existing Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River just east of I-430. It was the final link to a 15 mile circular bike and walking trail that joins Little Rock with our northern neighbor North Little Rock and its expansive Burns Parks. In addition it facilitates access to approximately 70,000 total acres of city, county, state and federal park land.
By contrast, the Two Rivers Bridge spans the Little Maumelle River to connect with Two Rivers Park, a 1,000 acre green space of hiking and riding trails 550 acres of which are owned by Pulaski County and 450 acres of which are owned by the City of Little Rock, including the terminal point. As an added plus, this bridge also opens up connectivity to Pinnacle Mountain and 200 miles of hiking trails in the Ouachita Mountains. This was not our first venture into Two Rivers Park, as we have transported our 1972-vintage matched pair of Raleigh bikes out there before for early morning rides that made you feel like you were pedaling in Provance (re: picture below from June 2009 ).
However, this new access did provide a huge advantage in time and distance in getting there, as it eliminated the need to go all the way out west to Pinnacle Valley Road and then travel back east on County Farm Road. You now just have to go basically beneath the I-440 Bridge and hop on this new bridge.
Being a Saturday morning we expected it to be a popular place but as the day wore on it became more so. In fact by the time we returned from our two hour walk, all parking lots were full, so we were glad we went early. Besides being an easy and pleasing way to knock off a few miles (3.8 to be exact), we encountered many friends along the way, one of whom we had not seen in several years, which is the reason it took two hours. Additionally, we spotted four deer in a field toward the western end of the primary trail at County Farm Road, saw a couple doing their birding thing and heard the sound of some wild creature in the distant woods that was totally unfamiliar to us. All and all it was a most enjoyable and relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors, so kudos to Judge Buddy Villines and all those who made this bridge and park possible, as they are both true assets to our community. Our only complaint, and it's a big one, is that the attractive restroom facility on County Farm Road at our western turn around point was locked up tighter than a drum, so we, as well as a whole slew of bike riders we saw there, were denied access to an essential public facility with no notice or explanation. What's with that? If it is not going to be open for the true "convenience and necessity" of the public for whom it was built, on perhaps one of the most used days of the week, then why even have it?
That issue aside, I also could not help but wonder how many of the throngs of people who were out there yesterday thoroughly enjoying the day harbored the same belief system as that which is currently strangling our political system - i.e. no new taxes! Who do they think financed that very amenity they were enjoying free? Please keep that in mind as this nation struggles to right its financial ship and justify revenue increases. They really do achieve good things for all of us.
ARTISTS - Visual and Musical
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com
Matt McLeod at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501
Barry Thomas at http://barrythomasart.com
Sherry Williamson at http://meowbarkart.com
Julie McNair at http://juliemcnair.com
Phoebe Lichty at http://phoebelichty.com
Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com
Boswell Mourot Fine Art at http://boswellmourot.com