The Standing Wave on the Trinity River Stands Ready to Wash Away More of Your Dough

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Somewhere in the saga of the Dallas Wave, formerly known as the Standing Wave, there is sanity. Things happen for a reason. I take this as an article of faith, but my faith is sorely tested by the wave.

The standing wave is a manmade rapids in the Trinity River downriver from downtown that the city is attempting to create as a recreational amenity for kayakers. I wrote about it last May. Several years in development, the city opened it to the public in May but then closed it to the public the same day.

Huh?

Well, there were some serious design problems. The engineers who had designed the water feature included a bypass around it for canoes. Charles Allen, who is pretty much the godfather of all Trinity River canoe outfitters, told me the city had rebuffed his many offers to test the bypass.

Test it how? Paddle through it in a canoe.

Had someone done that, they might have noticed that the bypass had a tendency to smash canoes and kayaks sideways, turn them on their ends and flip them over all pretty much in one motion.

The city said they were going to fix it. I went down there last week. Nothing has changed. But this week the Dallas Park and Recreation Board will decide whether to pay $76,648 to Freese and Nichols, the engineering firm that designs sewage treatment plants and such for the city, to study what's wrong with it.

I asked Dallas Park and Recreation Assistant Director Willis Winters if the testing will include anybody paddling through it in a canoe. He said no.

"Canoe tests are not feasible because we would have to wait for changes in the river conditions to test a range of water flow rates," Winters told me in an email.

Instead, he wrote:

"The proposed standing wave study will be conducted by a professional engineer specializing in hydraulic studies, in collaboration with a water-resources laboratory. The lab will construct a 1:5-scale physical hydraulic model of the entire project to simulate the wave structure's performance and behavior under various hydraulic conditions -- in other words, how the various features of the standing wave perform under low water flow, normal flow and high flow (following a rain event). The model will test the existing conditions of the wave as well as the proposed modification to the lower bypass channel. This model will also allow the project team to make physical modifications to the design of the standing wave and bypass channels, and to test these modifications, so that recommendations can be made for improvements. Once the test is complete, a final recommendation will be provided to the city for design modifications to the wave structure."
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Haven't seen anyone doing this lately, for good reason.
That's good. Winters knows his business. I just like canoe tests, because you can check for: 1) Skinny people versus really big people in a boat; 2) Drunk people versus sober; 3) People who can canoe straight versus people who go in circles; and 4) College students who stand up in the canoe while drinking beer.

I don't want to kill any of them. The way the river was before, it didn't. Why add canoe killings if we don't have to?

There is the matter of the money. It's pretty hard to follow with this thing. The original cost was to be $1.1 million, bumped up to $1.4 million in August 2008, supposedly from the 1998 Trinity River bond funds.

In January 13 of this year, the city council was told the standing wave had cost $3.4 million, with only $200,000 coming from the '98 bond money and $3.2 million coming from a 2006 bond campaign.

On March 3, the park board was told the cost of the project had been bumped up from $4 million to $4.2 million with all of the money coming from 2006 bond funds.

I can't find where anybody was told how the project went from $3.2 million in January to $4 million at some point before March, but anyway it went up a total of a million bucks in three months. Now it's going up another $76,000.

I just wish they'd let Charles Allen paddle through it in a canoe.

I have a feeling that such a thing is way beneath the dignity of the professionals who are behind this project. But I think more than $3.1 million in change orders -- an increase in the overall cost of the project of more than 350 percent -- ought to be way beneath somebody's dignity too, especially since you still can't paddle through the standing wave.

We used to do stuff sort of like this in small rivers in Michigan when I was in my 20s. Shove a boulder or a log out in the river to make some turbulence. Canoe through it. Move the boulder. Canoe through it. It's homely, but it's cheap, and you can test for the effect of beer.


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75 comments
Russp
Russp

Appropriate to have a company that designs sewage treatment plants help the city flush more money down the toilet.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Will the model feature murky, smelly water as well?

For accuracy, of course.

Trinitarian
Trinitarian

This 1:5-scale physical hydraulicmodel had better have incomplete bridges made out of cardboard strips dangling overthe water, a pointless yet fully illuminated downtown skyline and, most importantly, scoresof incredibly detailed houses that are several miles away from the Wave or I’mgoing to be sorely disappointed.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

Why build a 1:5 model, when you can get the 1:1 model for free?  What are they scared of?  It's not like they are going to di......  

never mind.

TimCov
TimCov

Add me as one of the people who think this problem can best be solved by the application of high explosives to the structure. It is cost effective and the easiest way to get the river closer to its natural state.

W W
W W

All this while we have to make cuts to our schools..

Ed D.
Ed D.

Dallas: our canoeist-murdering water features are world class!

Julia
Julia

On the upside, Dallas is a Standing Wave of insanity and things not happening for a good reason. Schutze will surfing forever, as long as he remembers not to stand up in the canoe.

EdS
EdS

Ask someone--Schutze, for example--to compare the Trinity's manufactured rapids against the Buffalo River's Clabber Creek rapids.  Schutze is a true expert.  He really really is. 

db
db

Why can't we just a few "flood friendly" walkways and bike trails????????  Any maybe a little (okay - not a little) trash cleanup??

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

My guess the "fleshlight" add makes it hard for people at work to log into this cite.

Ben
Ben

"Canoe tests are not feasible because we would have to wait for changes in the river conditions to test a range of water flow rates," Winters told me in an email.-----Why not test for the current low flow conditions? That's really the only time the structure has teeth. August 6, 2010 is the one year anniversary of the great canoe disaster that shredded a party of river users in what was then a diversion channel. It was hotter than hell in the middle of the afternoon. People will use the river 365 days out of the year not just during the primo flow conditions.

At 475 cfs the current flow, there is barely enough water to float a canoe with two people in it through the Wave(s). This is when the Dallas Wave is the most dangerous.

The meaty part of the flow is around 1300-1700 cfs, when everything is flowing well. The average flow is much lower than that 700-800 cfs. That's when the canoe bypass is easy to flow through.

At 3000 cfs the lower wave washes out and is neutered.

At 4000 cfs both structures are inundated and neutered. Both the upper and lower wave.

Still water runs deep and I think that is the solution to the bypass. A "U" shaped bottom that allows the water to flow, rather than turn into a constricted jet of water is the easy answer.

It will piss me off to no end if the Santa Fe Trestle Trail completion/opening is delayed because the city does not want anyone near their devil's plaything.

Amy S.
Amy S.

Am I the only one wondering that even if it gets fixed, will anyone use it? Enough to justify what will probably end up costing over $5 million?

dt&ot
dt&ot

The cost is too high and I worry the this will be another black eye for the City of Dallas.  But another part of me thinks, what if by some miracle the City of Dallas fixes the problem, and people can actually make it through the conoe bypass. Somedaiy we might look back on this and decide that building the standing wave in that ditch was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty Trinity River Project.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Will the 1:5-scale physical hydraulic model have only 1:5 of the toxicity of the full-scale Trinity water?

As for turning $1.1M into $4.2M+, I'd like to see Scott Griggs ask that question, especially since he has replaced (Thank God) our previous Trinity River Canoe-person.

Amy S.
Amy S.

Au Sable, six pack of Stroh's, Bob Seger on the radio. Summer in Michigan.

JimS
JimS

Our businessman mayor was chairman of the park board when a lot of this was going down. Start holding your breath now to see how long it takes him to ask the tough questions.

Cujo
Cujo

Y'all had to drag Georgia into this, didn't you? OK!Let's work some (North) Georgia-style testing into this! Can we test it with someone from the city duct-taped in the canoe? Make it someone with a "purty mouth". If we have time, get a Ned Beatty look-alike and import us some of the cast rejects from "Deliverance" too. I'm not talking about just the banjo players, if you know what I mean...

JimS
JimS

Amazing thing is, you get down to about that point, where the river enters the Great Trinity Forest, and it doesn't really smell bad. Once in a while you get a whiff of TIDE Original scent. That's about it. All the more reason not to screw it up. 

TimCov
TimCov

The city does not fund the schools. DISD is a separate governmental entity with a seperate budget and revenue source.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

You know, I don't see why they need to re-engineer anything. Just re-label the "safety bypass" as the "murder chute".

Fromadistance
Fromadistance

Think this is bad? Wait 'till cars can't get across the Large Marge bridge because of some obscure engineering flaw!

JimS
JimS

You can survive Clabber Creek Shoals one of two ways: 1) Go WAY WAY WAY around it up next to the strainers on the sandbar. Or, 2) Go through it backwards while fishing, dump all your stuff in the river and lose it, fall out and get water up your nose, swim to shore and make a BIG BIG fire to dry out your sleeping bag. I have to admit I kind of like #2 for some reason. Better story, I guess. I like it best when the other guy does it, though, because I don't like getting water up my own nose.

whodunnit
whodunnit

.....because this, after all, is DALLAS!

Observist
Observist

You know, don't you, that the ads are specifically targeted for each viewer based on their browsing history.   Thanks for sharing!

Harvey
Harvey

The alligators and alligator gars love it.  Good fishin'.

Michael in LH
Michael in LH

It will all be paid back by the toll tags on all the canoes.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Best use of a "Saving Private Ryan" quote I have seen today. Excellent work, dt!

JimS
JimS

Could be. And it's peanuts next to what the Calatrava thong bridge is costing us.

JimS
JimS

Did an expose once on so-called "slob canoeists" on the Au Sable and found that, generally speaking, most people out there were much better behaved than Detroit Free Press reporters and photographers.

cp
cp

IF he asks any at all.

scottindallas
scottindallas

sounds like you're describing Reverchon more than North GA.  Tennessee is the sight of Deliverance. 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

That comes from Being just a bit West of the old P&G Plant on Lamar .

Observist
Observist

Well, in that case, we shouldn't really care that one property-tax funded entity is wasting millions on re-engineering a recreational frivolity, while another property-tax funded entity is reducing the quality of our children's education.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Now, now, be fair. Whether the "Large Marge" can actually carry cars is really beside the point, isn't it? What counts is that it looks good.

EdS
EdS

Rest of the tale: Overly modest preacher's boy, knife clinched in teeth, jumps in the Buffalo River and rescues companion stranded atop overturned kayak stuck in Clabber Creek rapids rocks. Uses the knife to cut rope of an anchor stuck in the rocks. The scribe knows dangerous rapids, natural and man-made. 

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Ha! Now I've got a mental image of that whole automatic toll plaza apparatus you see on the tollways built over the Trinity River right at the Wave.  With Tollway Police in canoes downriver to catch all the toll evaders!

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Dammit, Jim!  I'm never going to be able to see that thing without thinking "thong bridge" now.

Amy S.
Amy S.

We were no slobs, sir. We were bums.

BG
BG

Deliverance was filmed in North GA.

whodunnit
whodunnit

Absolutely agree............it is totally ridiculous to spend money so frivolously when our future (our children) is being threatened.

JimS
JimS

EdS fails to mention he was in on it, too. Every time I hear the guy who got saved talk about politics, I wonder if we made a mistake.

Amy S.
Amy S.

Really? Because I look at it and think it's rather more phallic. Wonder if those strings will vibrate?

Cujo
Cujo

I read it in 1996, so my memory is just a bit faded. So here's what Wiki says:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

"Plot summary

Narrated in the first person by one of the main characters, graphic artist Ed Gentry, the novel begins with four middle-aged men in a large Georgia city planning a weekend canoe trip down the fictional Cahulawassee River in the north Georgia wilderness. The river valley will soon be flooded by a dam to create a reservoir."PS: The book is much better than the movie.

scottindallas
scottindallas

It's the story of the TVA flooding the area.  I see you are right, that the book/movie uses a fictional river "the Cahulawassee"  but that narrative fits the TVA as Georgia hasn't built a lake in 50 yrs, according to the article comparing Dallas and Atlanta

Cujo
Cujo

The book takes place in northern Georgia and the subjects in the book are from the Atlanta area. The film was made in various locations including northern Georgia, South and North Carolina. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00...As an aside, I had read the book before I ever saw the movie. I saw it at the Brangus Steak house in Calhoun, Ga which is about 70 miles north of Hartfield Airport. The folks there sure knew how to make a Yankee feel at home during the film.

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