Flooding keeps Riverpark closed; won't re-open Wednesday
Flooding has closed the Tennessee Riverpark for a second straight day with no plans to reopen it tomorrow. The eight-mile Riverwalk stretches from the Chickamauga Dam to Ross's Landing downtown. It runs right along the Tennessee River and that's causing some problems on the trail.
Director of Hamilton County Parks & Rec. Ron Priddy oversees the entire Riverpark. He's been with the department for almost two decades and isn't afraid to close the park down.
"This is the worst flood that I've seen since I've been employed with the county. We had one in 2003 that closed the park also but I think this one is worse than that time," he said. "There's massive amounts of the trail that's flooded and it's too dangerous to have the public in here."
A graph from the National Weather Service shows the Tennessee River has risen 13 feet since Friday, and is only four feet from hitting the official "Major Flood Stage."
But as the water recedes, Priddy's work is just beginning.
"A lot of trash and debris and plastic bottles that washed up and driftwood. But mainly silt and mud on the trail that's 4-6 inches deep. So that's gonna take some effort," Priddy said.
Many folks who frequent the park are cyclists and a trail clear of debris is essential to safety.
"We'll get it opened and get our regular people back in here as soon as we can but right now we just gotta get it cleaned up," he said.
With a vested interest in the weather, Priddy watched the forecast closely.
"I was hoping for some sunshine, but it's a never ending thing here all of a sudden. You need to talk to Paul and get some sunshine," he said.
Priddy expects to reopen the Riverpark in the next 2-3 days.