February 22, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Project hits snag

Feb 22, 2011

February 22, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Project hits snag

Project hits snag

Replacing footbridge to create chute for boaters, floaters may harm dam

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin
Published: February 22. 2011 4:00AM PST

The Bend Park & Recreation District has discovered a potential obstacle in its effort to modify the Colorado Avenue dam, where a woman died five years ago. The project may be delayed while the district takes a closer look at the problem.

At issue is the relationship between the dam and the pedestrian bridge running along the top, said Bruce Ronning, director of planning and development for the park district. Historical records have provided inconsistent information about the construction of the two structures, he said, and this could complicate the district's plan to replace the bridge with a taller structure that would provide more clearance for boaters and floaters.

“What we've discovered — in a preliminary way — is that the structure of the dam and the support of the bridge may not be as independent as we'd thought,” Ronning said.

Tonight, the park district board will consider a modification to the district's contract with Otak, the firm overseeing the design and engineering of the whitewater project. The change would have Otak perform an investigative geotechnical survey to determine whether the current plan is workable.

According to the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, a nonprofit group supporting the whitewater play area and other river improvements, the dam was built in 1915 to create a pond in which the city's lumber mills could store logs. With the closure of the mills and increased public use of the river in the Old Mill District area, a pullout has been built to allow river users to carry their craft around the dam. Several signs have been posted warning of the danger of the spillway, where a Keizer woman drowned in July 2006.

The park district's plan would create gaps in the spillway, allowing boaters and floaters to pass through on left side of the river near the current takeout point, while fish passages would be built on the right side. Alterations of the riverbed below the dam would create pools and, for more skilled boaters, standing waves.

Recent questions about the relationship between the dam and bridge don't mean the entire project is in danger, Ronning said. Depending upon what the geotechnical survey turns up, the district's design may require only alterations.

“It's not any conclusive evidence of anything,” he said. “It's just there's some question of whether the original concept of the pedestrian bridge can be done.”

The park district has not yet identified a way to pay for the proposed changes at the Colorado Avenue dam, which were estimated early last year to cost approximately $1.7 million.

Scott Hammers can be reached at 541-383-0387 or at shammers@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010



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