Gathering Place Construction Moves Closer To Arkansas River

Monday, December 7th 2015, 7:37 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Construction started late last week on tunnels along Riverside Drive - some of the first real concrete building work going on at the Gathering Place.

The work on the park continues to push out towards the river; right on the old Riverside roadbed, a massive drilling rig is putting down footing for the tunnels and bridges overhead.

The dirt work at the Gathering Place has bulldozers about as low as they can go.

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On the northeast corner, they're digging out a basement for the lodge, shoring up walls so construction can begin.

It's just behind where the Blair House sat; it’ll have a brand new look with a view out towards the river.

On the other end of the two-acre pond, 18 feet deep of dirt has been removed.

There will be a boathouse on the edge and construction on that starts soon.

While from above the land looks relatively flat, the majority of the work at the Gathering Place is digging down and building up.

Project Manager, Jeff Stava said, "At the highest point, 52 feet above present grade, so, where Riverside Drive was, and the big green lawn, 52 feet tall, and that's just the land, then on top of it, trees and structures. And then at the bottom, with the pond, it's 17 to 18 feet below grade, so a lot of change in topography."

One high point is above the land bridges that cross over Riverside Drive - Riverside runs under them in two side by side tunnels, each 100 yards long.

They're placing the foundations now - 190 piers, four feet around, drilled down to bedrock. They can drill three each day, but the work is speeding up in the soft sandy soil that runs along the river.

The concrete poured is the most substantial construction so far at the site, the rest of it is moving dirt and rock to get ready to build playgrounds and buildings on the 65-acre site.

Stava said, “We're building the spots where all the large assets of the park will be, so you can really stand in several areas and see exactly where the lodge is going to be, exactly where the boathouse is going to be.”

The scale of the work isn't just measured in topography - they're adding acres, almost nine acres of new land on the west side of Riverside, out into the river.