No Paddling Allowed on Trinity River Paddling Trail. Which, Come to Think of It, Is So Dallas.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn
SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
Thank goodness. Finally reached Judy Schmidt, marketing director for the city's Trinity River Corridor Project, to ask about tomorrow's grand opening of the Trinity River Paddling Trail. I had been trying to reach her since last week to ask if she was going to warn people they might be killed.

But the city of Dallas will do even better than that! First rule of the road for tomorrow's grand opening of the Trinity River Paddling Trail: No paddling allowed.

That way, nobody gets killed.

"There will not be any boats launched, because the river is closed from the Sylvan boat launch to the Loop 12 boat launch due to the downstream construction at the Dallas Wave and the Santa Fe Trestle Hike and Bike Trail," Schmidt just told me in an email.

It's good they're being cautious. Blaming it on construction is utterly absurd, of course. You could paddle all the way from the Sylvan boat launch, which is upstream from downtown, several miles downriver to the city's "Wave" structure at Corinth below downtown, and you would never pass a bit of construction.

But the city has other concerns, which I pointed out in a column in this week's newspaper and an item here on Unfair Park. Among them: The company that designed the city's new Dallas Wave whitewater feature on the Trinity River has informed the city it needs to rebuild it. Why? They say it needs to be more "user-friendly" for casual paddlers. Charles Allen, who is the reigning authority on family canoe trips on the Trinity, says the thing the city has built on the river near the Corinth bridge south of downtown is so dangerous he's afraid to let his clients get anywhere near it.

StandingWaveComposite.jpg
The Standing Wave, or: what we were promised and what we ended up with.
Tomorrow's opening of the Trinity River Paddling Trail is part of a statewide unveiling by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -- seven new canoe and kayak trails all over Texas. This one has been long-awaited by lovers of the Trinity River, because of the stamp of approval it gives to the benighted Trinity through Dallas.

But between the time the notion of a state-sponsored paddling trail on the Trinity was conceived and tomorrow's opening, the city built its weird so-called whitewater feature. Readers have been posting comments both to my column and the blog item asking what the hell happened to the whitewater deal between the time it was proposed and the actual building of it.

Good question. Take a look at the original concept -- all boulders and grassy banks - and the thing they actually built, which looks like a damn dam.

Wait. It is a damn dam! Damn!

If you look at those construction photos, you may be able to pick out a narrow chute on one side constructed entirely of concrete and rock. That's what wound up being the so-called canoe bypass. But with water roaring through there, it's more like canoeing inside a Cuisinart.

Allen said last week he's convinced few family canoers could make it through there without dumping the kids into the drink in a great deal of turbulence in some very scarily polluted water.

The city's public invitation to the trail apparently is based on an early design, long since abandoned, that included a safe bypass for canoes. The city's web page still tells canoers they can expect a "calm bypass channel with landscaped embankments and kayakers at play." But that's just patently false. They can expect no such thing. They can expect to get their asses whipped by that Cuisinart is what they can expect.

Last week I asked Shane Sigle of Recreation Engineering and Planning in Boulder, Colorado, why the thing the city wound up building looks so little like his company's other projects around the country, which are very natural in appearance, built with boulders and river rocks.

"You know, that's a question I was asking also," Sigle said. He told me his firm had no control over the materials used in construction. "That's not something we had control over. We did not get to choose the materials. We were just responsible for the geometry and the flow and the width and those types of issues."

Oh, well. Anyway, the situation for now is that there will be no paddling allowed on the Trinity River Paddling Trail for the foreseeable future until the whitewater feature gets rebuilt. Nobody knows how long that will take.

Of all of the wonderful new paddling trails TPWD has opened in the last several years, ours here in Dallas will be truly unique -- the only one in Texas where no paddling is allowed.The great Dallas Trinity River project marches on!

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Catbird
Catbird

I'll bet there is a big fat cya letter from Recreation Engineering and Planning somewhere...I'd hate to be the city's project manager.

Foo
Foo

Why would ANYONE want to paddle in that cesspool of a river... I see people fishing in the river... and there is NO WAY I would eat any fish caught in the trinity.. The river is a stinking mess. I dont care how you try to pretty it up (parks, water features, crappy bridges) it STILL SUX as a river..

TrinityTerror
TrinityTerror

I feel like the most misleading part of that rendering was showing the Trinity River as having clean, deep blue water. Ha.Ain't goin' near that sludge.

Jane Smith
Jane Smith

'sounds like the construction folks took lots of liberties with the design............the only question is............did they do that with or without the City's approval.

RS1963
RS1963

So REP designed it. Then who was everything handed off to? City construction people, a sub-contractor (getting "equity"?), day laborers? Did REP have any approvals or input after they handed everything off? At exactly what point did the City screw everything up?Thank goodness local TV stations are spending "months" looking into "shocking allegations of sales prices on TVs!!!!!!!" instead of worthwhile investigative journalism.

TimCov
TimCov

First they ban paddling in the schools, then they ban it in the river. Where are people supposed to get their kink on? ;>

Seriously, this just shows how inept the people in the city government are at planning even simple projects like this.

gabbahey
gabbahey

I would think the Sylvan Ave. launch closure would be due to the fake suspension bridge construction... Thus, keeping paddlers from paddling beneath the oversized PVC pipe.

Stacy
Stacy

When is Dallas going to learn......When you build a community park....ASK THE COMMUNITY for it's input espically the people that are already using it.If ur building a whitewater feature for kayakers...ask the guy for his input who will be renting out 99% of the kayaks for said park...I am so sick and tired of this..this is just like Belo Park..." were gonna build a beautiful serene park so residents that live nearby can enjoy it...yet they are building a 15ft wall in front of the only residential building in the area blocking the park from them and are not backing down even tho the entire building is against it...These are community projects for the community ask us since we are gonna be using them more than u!!!!!

JimS
JimS

Yeah, BIll, there's just a whole lot of untold story here. What the city built seems to be way more structural than what REP was proposing, which tells me that somebody didn't get the hydraulics right in he first place. The REP projects elsewhere are in smaller steeper falling rivers, where a boulder next to a bank can create a lot of excitement. Everybody's problem with the Trinity is that it is a quite flat alluvial river with a very slow fall. That's also why lakes are a dumb idea: they're just going to fill up with mud. Somebody got this whitewater thing very wrong, and we don;t know who yet.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Does the City have the authority to close a river?

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

JIm, aren't you pointing out two different issues:

Recreation Engineering and Planning was in charge of the design, correct? So isn't the safety their issue?

Now, appearance, I see the company's point, if we decided to make the thing out of concrete, which is I bet cheaper, they gotta work with the materials we designate.

Ben
Ben

The city now has two permanent signs up at The Dallas Wave/Standing Wave, one in English, one in Spanish. It has the standard warnings about no swimming, no lifeguard on duty, life jackets required. Interesting though that the sign now classifies the Dallas Wave/Standing wave as "Class III" rapids which is "Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class III- or Class III+ respectively."

That seems to be a pretty fair assessment of the Dallas Wave in terms of difficulty. Exception being the strong eddies.

Visiting the Dallas Wave over the weekend, I rode the upper and lower bypasses. The upper one is easy, the lower one is what will give people trouble. By then you are already committed to tackling the bypass. They have a large sandstone rock jammed into the lower bypass which funnels the water into more of a jet. I wonder if they pulled the rock out, which is about the size of a beer keg, if that would calm the water.

I have a feeling that this structure might become more well known as a fishing spot. There are a ton of Alligator Gar that come up to feed in the tailrace in the evening there. 3-4 feet long. Scary as crap. In 5 minutes I counted over 200 surface strikes.

Hawkayaks
Hawkayaks

Get off my lawn, seems about right. Gotta keep up with the GCB I guess. I only wonder how many of you actually used this area befor kayakers became involeved with it? Seems like we have brought attention to it and made it better so if you don't like it, then get off my lawn. You can argue that we haven't made it better, but I believe we have. At least you are talking about it. So like it or not, we are here, and just as much a part of this community as you are.

JimS
JimS

Yeah, that's the next thing. It's a pile of riprap right out in front of the main channel. I predict it winds up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dont
Dont

But wait!! TV stations are also spending precious seconds promoting "IN 'n' OUT Burger" and depriving us of equal opportunity reporting on Carl Jr. and Twisted Root.

I don't understand why they can't actually design and execute something a majority of the citizens of Dallas might actually show up to do, like a relatively safe canoe excursion on the Trinity.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

"Where are people supposed to get their kink on?'

Harry Hines on a Saturday night?

JimS
JimS

Yeah, BIll, there's just a whole lot of untold story here. What the city built seems to be way more structural than what REP was proposing, which tells me that somebody didn't get the hydraulics right in he first place. The REP projects elsewhere are in smaller steeper falling rivers, where a boulder next to a bank can create a lot of excitement. Everybody's problem with the Trinity is that it is a quite flat alluvial river with a very slow fall. That's also why lakes are a dumb idea: they're just going to fill up with mud. Somebody got this whitewater thing very wrong, and we don;t know who yet.

Guest
Guest

Agreed. I think it comes down to: (1) did the change in materials actually change the safety (seems plausible, but still unproven); and (2) did Recreation Engineering and Planning alert the city that using its design with the City's designated materials could render the project unsafe. If the answer to both is yes, it seems like this is all the City's fault. If the answer to either question is not, Recreation Engineering and Planning is to blame.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Ben based on what you know about Rapids, Class 3 is a good thing right ? This will/would attract the experienced recreational Kayak -er ?

Harvey
Harvey

How about the gator?

Ben
Ben

Here is what it now looks like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

The sandstone boulder placed in the lower bypass channel was added after completion, I guess to try and fix some of the water flow issues. It still races somewhat like a jet through there. The upper bypass is much calmer.

The warning sign near the handicapped parking area:

http://img560.imageshack.us/im...

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Thanks Jim,

This seems like it's 'water under the bridge now'. (so sorry), but this looks like another example of being what we are not. We're not a white water river. We're a slow moving alluvial river. Nothing wrong with that. How about spending money on preventing erosion, planting native grasses? Re-creating the Blackland Prairies that were here. Maybe acquiring and preserving some of the undeveloped land in the White Rock Escarpment, which is beautiful, reclaiming some of the pretty white rock creeks around here.

I don't know anything about designing a white rock feature, maybe this could still be workable.

JimS
JimS

Charles Allen tells me he tried to get down to the whitewater feature this weekend. He said city crews told him that no one would be allowed to launch from that site (except reporters) and that any citizens who showed up in canoes, having paddled down from Sylvan, will not be allowed to take out there. They will be ordered to paddle back upstream to Sylvan, which is just crazy dangerous – exhausting and prone to getting badly turned in major currents at narrow and shallow points.

stupidisasstupiddoes
stupidisasstupiddoes

My *uneducated guess* would be that it all depends on what vague language the City used in the contract when describing what they wanted. I mean, our City Attorneys did come up with the vague language on the ballot the last time there was a Trinity River Project related vote (remember, vote YES if you don't want a tollroad inside the levee and vote NO if you want a tollroad anywhere at all?)

I can easily envision that the city described something that relates to a water feature that will attract kayakers, completely forgetting that we also have canores on the river. But, I can also envision that Recreation Engineering and Planning may have told someone lower down on the project management team that it might not be all that safe for canoers and that person, fearful of losing his/her job, might not have reported it to the people who need to know, or that the people who need to know, fearful of losing their jobs might have decided to just tell the PIO to put on a happy face and tell the world that it's going on as planned and all will be well with the world once it's completed and no one would be the wiser.

matilda of tuscany
matilda of tuscany

why do something like that when we can be known as the city who builds non-functional, ugly, concrete crap like the Calamitytrava Bridge? Even my kids are smart enough to realize it is an ugly copy of the SL Arch, and wonder why there isn't something worthwhile or fun about it.

The concrete wave is just more of the same.

If your going to dress this mule up to look like a Thoroughbred, at least put some nice harness on it.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Boy Jm, the city must really want you gone.

heavy metal church lady
heavy metal church lady

I need to understand the "except reporters" part. Does that mean a certain reporter is going to do it anyway or that reporters get to go in boats to the Standing Way?

Ben
Ben

The current is so slow on the Trinity, about 1-2mph, that on days with a strong southerly breeze it can be almost impossible to make headway downriver between the levees. It would actually be easier to paddle it in reverse. Or sail upstream in a sailboat. That might actually be fun to try. Hmmm.

The Dallas Wave actually created a mini-lake of sorts, raising the previous water level of the river about 3 feet and backing the river up to about the Houston Street Viaduct.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...