The Trinity River's Disastrous White-water Feature May Waste Even More Taxpayer Money

Categories: Schutze

elephantshit.jpg
Wikipedia
Monkey eating elephant turds. Us.
Last week I was telling you how the city's so-called "white water feature," the fake kayak rapids they built in the Trinity River three years ago, is still there and still stupid, sitting out in the middle of the river like giant petrified elephant poop that nobody knows what to do with. Yesterday, The Dallas Morning News had a really good follow on it, pointing out in a very Morning News way (not exactly pointing it out) just how ridiculous the whole thing has become.

According to reporter Roy Appleton, the city has given up on actively forbidding people from paddling through the fake rapids just downriver from downtown, because they found out that they lack the authority to close a navigable river. But they're not exactly actively encouraging anybody to use it, because the thing is so screwed up that people might get killed, and, you know, cities shouldn't build stuff that kills people and then invite them to go use it. It's just not right somehow.

The truth about what the city is doing is a bit more complicated. Three years ago they really got on the muscle with Charles Allen, whose Trinity River Expeditions is the premier canoe outfitter on the river, threatening him with criminal prosecution (see letter below) if he even tried to use the parking lot to put canoes in the river below the white-water feature.

Allen was never going to put canoes in above the feature -- which is really a low concrete dam with water going over the top -- because then the only way for a canoe to paddle around the dam is through a so-called "bypass" that's so dangerous it's like dropping a banana into a Vita-Mix blender.

Why is it so dangerous? This whole thing supposedly is on the verge of litigation, so nobody will talk on the record, but I have been told by knowledgeable sources that the white-water feature is a mess because the city cheaped out on the design.

The design company, a Colorado firm, told them they wanted to design the entire stretch of river including the dam to make sure it all worked together. According to my sources, the city said no: They paid the design firm just to do the dam and then used their own civil engineers to design the canoe bypass on the other side of the river.

Kind of like, "No, you guys just design the hammer and the chamber of the gun, and we've got a kid who can do the trigger in-house with the computer." What a disaster.

I spoke with Charles Allen yesterday. Unlike the morons who put this thing together, he knows rivers. "In the area where they built it, the river has a drop of less than a foot per mile." He said the rich goofies who pushed this thing were basing it on rivers in Colorado that have drops from three to 10 feet per mile.

In a fast-dropping river, it's easy to create white-water. Just plunk some boulders in there. But in a big sluggish alluvial river like the Trinity, you have to create a massive manipulation of the river in order to get a wave out of it. "And that creates all kind of problems," he told me.

After the city threatened to arrest him for using the parking lot -- an exercise in sheer malevolence because he had criticized them publicly -- the city started padlocking the road to the parking lot. Curiously enough, however, someone was handing out the combination to the lock to certain groups of favored kayakers who were rumored to be friends of the rich goofies.

Someone obviously complained to the Corps of Engineers that the city and/or the goofies were treating the river as a private playground for a privileged few while threatening to send the cops after anybody else who tried to use it at that location. As Appleton's piece reveals, the city has stopped doing that and has removed the padlock from the gate.

At the end of the day after my piece appeared here last week, a city spokesperson called me to say that the city is "in talks" with the designers searching for a solution, as if that's supposed to make me or anybody else happy. Yeah, I could be in talks with them, too. I could say, "You guys fix it," and then they could say, "Kiss our asses." That's talks.

But here is another important factor in all of this. Dallas city councilman Scott Griggs has been pushing the city for months to tell him what they have done with the tens of millions of dollars already spent on all aspects of the overall Trinity River Project, a public works campaign to build a freeway along the river.

It took some tough tooth-pulling, but Griggs has uncovered that the city is sitting on $2 million to pay for whatever fix they come up with for the white-water feature. The thing has already cost $4.2 million. It was supposed to cost a mere $3.1 million. So now it's going up to $6.2 million.

Allen told me the dam is already silting in a long stretch of river that the corps has dredged on multiple occasions to make sure it can move large volumes of water out of the way during high floods, and he said it appears to be screwing up the mollusk, plant and fish populations.

So what about this with their $2 million? Why not spend that money blowing up the whole damn dam, hauling off the stone elephant poop and fixing all the damage left behind? Then we could all go canoeing again. Money well spent for a change, if you ask me.

City to Charles Allen Letter by Schutze

My Voice Nation Help
55 comments
MisterMean
MisterMean

Nothing like that endless supply of tax dollars for our city to squander.

doublecheese
doublecheese

You know, a real world class city might clean up the pollution in its river instead of crap like this.  You know, all those things that make the fish from the Trinity inedible.

manpanties
manpanties

the youtube shows a guy using the wave which makes me think the wave works.  lets fix the bypass and move along.

WylieH
WylieH

[According to reporter Roy Appleton, the city has given up on actively forbidding people from paddling through the fake rapids just downriver from downtown, because they found out that they lack the authority to close a navigable river.]
I'm not so sure about that:


See my photo at:   https://www.facebook.com/wylie.hdallas


ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

If we cant correctly put a  $4 million whitewater feature in it, how can we expect Dallas to build a $1 billion road running above the river

lebowski300
lebowski300

Why build one white-water feature when you can build no white-feature for twice the price? In corporate America, that's called synergy.


oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I swear I thought it was going to be a well engineered  water course at least a mile long Nope .It is "A" Standing wave. Just one wave that's all. A very compact expensive Standing wave .

Thanks Dallas .

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Odds are, if Dallas blows the thing up, they'll somehow manage to blow it up wrong, then have to blow up what they've blown up. Rinse, repeat.

Then through the constant explosive re-adjustment of the re-re-adjustments, the whole thing just becomes tragically farcically beyond any possibility of repair, some city bigwig will step in and declare the disaster a success with the magic words The Debate Is Over.

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

Man that white water thing is awesome. Nothing cooler than shooting through it. I get out just downstream of it and drag the kayak back upstream over and over again just to do it one more time. It's gonna be a real bummer if they tear it out. I doubt Scott Griggs or half the people commenting here have ever even been through it. It's fun as hell.

If you think that's dangerous, don't ever get on a real river.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Knock out the dam and clear the debris, then leave the damn river alone.  natural water bodies and waterways do a much better job of cleaning and repairing themselves than people ever do.  People always want to 'fix' the river or ocean or lake or whatever.  And, just like a boyfriend or husband who's significant other is constantly trying to 'fix' him, the river balks, gets contrary and does some pretty unexpected and wildly dangerous things, like undercut the levee and wash parts of town downstream.

If you don't believe Mother Nature is better at fixing herself than we are, compare the actions, costs, results and timeframes of the recoveries of two similar oil spills, the Valdez, off Alaska, in which the US gov't bowed to environmental pressure and annoyed all sorts of wildlife with dishsoap and the Cadez, off the coast of France, where the french just mopped up the loose oil and let nature run it's course.  Wave action scrubbed the beach clean, the sloughs and coastal wetlands cleaned up the water and the fish and bird populations returned to normal within 5 years.  Alaska spent billions over more than 10 years 'cleaning up' the Valdez spill and some argue that the habitat and wildlife populations still haven't recovered.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Just blow it up. Then you got boulders there.

This whole thing is just Dallas writ large, self caricature, but the players are serious, and totally miss the dynamic.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

You have to see it in Person to really appreciate what a White Water feature  looks like when re imagined  by the City of Dallas

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Boulders.

As pointed out previously, boulders can be moved by rivers. Place boulders upstream for immediate disruption, and as the Hand of God moves them downstream, they'll eventually destroy the damn dam.

Greg820
Greg820

I like the idea of just blowing it up and getting rid of it.  Because let's be honest, does anyone believe it will actually be maintained once it is "fixed?"

roo_ster
roo_ster

See, this is why I am loath to move into City of Dallas proper.  Being ruled over by such "world class" buffoons and arrogant bureaucritters...and paying more for the privilege...makes me more positively disposed to the picayune corrupticrats who rule my own town.


Also, I don't see anything that the proper application of ANFO/TNT/C4 and a week's worth of earth moving equipment could not fix.  Get some demo boys & combat engineers from Ft Hood to come on down to work with the CoE and turn that sucker into rubble.

James080
James080

The rapids are nothing more than Dallas' desperate attempt to show something of public benefit balanced against the invisible millions they have spent preparing the Trinity flood plain for the toll road that remains their entire focus.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Or we could dump a bunch of goat bones in there, create a bigger damn, and have a lake like we were promised.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

We need experienced negotiators.

Turn it over to Dallas's version of the Hatfields and McCoys - The Nasher and Dallas Police & Fire.

maybe a Civil War Reenactment could decide it?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@manpanties  

Wave (dam) was built (against designer's advice) right across from outfall of a major creek on the far bank. The bypass, therefore, cannot stray too far from the main channel without having to cross the creek, which ain't possible. If the bypass has to be built IN the main channel at that point, which it does, then the options for fixing it are greatly reduced. The constriction of  flow caused by the wave (dam) is going to direct a lot of flow-pressure into the bypass. The idiots who designed the bypass were told this. Being people who had never sat a canoe in their lives, they thought, "Well, we'll make it fun," so they installed steps in it, but they also made it very narrow, with high walls. A canoe can find its way through tricky water by being able to spin and turn, but this bypass doesn't allow that. Instead it rams the canoe straight through at velocity. The outfall of the bypass into the river is a strong deep whirlpool. Imagine directing a powerful current from a garden hose into a bucket -- that's what you would get, a whirlpool. Now imagine it times 100. So the people who tried it in a canoe right after it opened got smashed and bashed down the concrete channel. Then their canoe stood on end in the whirlpool and shook them out. Then one of them found herself pushed down into the whirlpool and unable to get to the surface even though she was wearing a PFD. She said before she got out she thought she was going to drown. Now imagine doing that with your kids in the boat. Canoeing is, after all, a family sport.

kduble
kduble

@WylieH Your photo backs up Shutze. The road is the dirt part. What's to the left is just a path for maintenance equipment.

lebowski300
lebowski300

@ScottsMerkin  By using more, bigger and better boulders. Obviously. How did you get "Top Commenter" anyway?

WylieH
WylieH

@oakclifftownie

How is the Standing Wave supposed to work, exactly? It's just one short section that takes a few seconds to navigate. Do you get in your canoe, go through it, then come ashore, carry it back upstream, and do it again... over and over?


Also, how does aquatic life swim upstream through this thing?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@benwellsstreet

Having never seen this beast, I'm wondering what class level it's rated under average water flow, Class IV?

What about the bypass?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@RTGolden1  

It's like that overpass.  Everybody wants to fix it.  The problem is, the are knowns and unknowns, and unknown unknowns.

Nobody knows what will happen if they tear it down.

It could easily result in a constant scream - Put it back up! Put it back up! FOR GOD'S SAKE PUT IT BACK UP!!!! (Ha!)

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

The only way that you will get the Corps of Engineers to do anything any faster than I could do it by myself is if you convince them that Mexico is invading the US by paddling its fleet up the Trinity River from Lake Livingston.

By the way, Mr. Schutze, where were you when the city was contemplating this monstrocity? Tell me that you were railing against this egregious waste of community money back when it redounded to the interest of a minority to which you belong.

xdarkridex
xdarkridex

@roo_ster  Ditto, ditto, ditto.  I'll stay up here a couple miles over the border in Denton county.  I'm sure it's also rife with corruption and stupidity, but so far it hasn't reached the near-sitcom proportions of Dallas city/county.


I love Dallas, and would love to live IN Dallas, but man...no time soon.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

Why no-one has called on George Bush to handle this is mystifying.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX @manpanties  

No good for fishing.  Not even a river bass would hang out in the maelstrom. 

Maybe suitable for SWAT/Homeland Security training.

One never knows when the recreational canoeists will arm themselves.  It's just a matter of time.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

The family that canoes together, in Dallas, stays in Dallas.

Forever.

WylieH
WylieH

@kduble @WylieH  Let me try to explain this photo in context.  First of all, you reach this point by taking a turn into a very obscure, hard-to-notice dead end road known as Santa Fe Ave. Santa Fe Ave can only be accessed by approaching it from the south on Eighth St., due to a median associated with a DART rail line crossing.  There is no signage indicating a park.... also, the only things you see as you look down the Santa Fe are warehouses on the left and a retaining wall on the right.  The road rises, so you can't tell what, if anything, is at the top.


Once you get to the end of the road, at the top of the hill, the paved road ends where it ends at a gate, with a narrow gravel path on the other side.  I took this photo at that point.  The gate is in the open position, but is posted with NO Trespassing signs in English and Spanish, as well as a ROAD CLOSED sign.


It doesn't seem like a public entrance, at all.  In fact, it seems like an entrance that will involve getting arrested if you proceed. Besides, from the gate, you can't tell where the gravel road goes, it just goes down steeply, leading to a place that can't be seen.  It looks like a service road for the levees or the DART rail line.


It is only after making the decision to risk taking the gravel road behind the gate that the parking lot comes into view after a short distance and it becomes clear you are in a park.


There is absolutely no way to find this place unless you know what you are looking for.  Once you find the entrance, it appears to be a restricted construction zone.


Hope this wordy description makes sense.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@WylieH  

That is basically an overflow weir with a bypass feature.  Whitewater feature my a$$.

Since this is a "whitewater feature", were the Clintons involved?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@WylieH  


It's not built for canoes or most kayaks. It is built for a very specialized boat that maybe 30 people in this area even own called a "playboat." It;s a very short stubby kayak that spins on a  dime. An adept playboater can paddle right back up into the whitewater, zoom around and down and back up without leaving it. None of that is remotely feasible in a  canoe or regular kayak, although I did once read a wonderful early 19th century account of Chippewa Indians spearing whitefish from canoes in the great rapids at Sault St. Marie between lakes Huron and Superior. The men stood in the bow, and the women paddled. They would fly up and down the rapids, load up the canoe with fish, go to shore, dump out their catch and go out for more.

Playboating is pretty cool for a bunch of civvies to do. But it's an extremely specialized sport. By far the more popular and populous use of this part of the river was canoeing. Please see my comment above on how the white water feature screws canoeing. All of this was done by people who had no idea what they were doing and who got pissed off at Charles Allen when he tried to tell them.   

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

I was told if I liked that theme, I could keep that theme.

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

I'm just an amateur so I don't know about that kind of stuff but the canoedallas.com guy probably does.

Anyways this is really sensationalism at its worst. People make it sound like the channel is covered in metal spikes and razor wire.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@PerryMoore Schutze has been battling this dragon since it was still an egg.  All the way back in 99 he was writing about something called Dallas Plan, Inc, which, from Jim's articles appears to be the surrogate parent of the Trinity River Plan, of which this boondoggle is part.

James080
James080

@TheRuddSki  

Actually, Dallas is a Democrat County. No doubt this white water rapids fiasco will eventually be blamed on GWB. 

WylieH
WylieH

Anyone who hates the Standing Wave hates Dallas. Meanwhile, I've just ordered a $1,500 playboat from an outfit in the U.K. See you on the Trinity... and canoers stay the hell away!

WylieH
WylieH

Wow... This is even more stupid than I thought. So... which Friend of Mary is into play boating?

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

The dangerous part about white water rafting etc is not the water but what lies below it. You fall out and you could break a leg or hit your head on a boulder. That's not really the case with the standing wave.

In that regard, the natural rapids downstream at I-45 and again at loop 12 are far more dangerous, you could get impaled by a log or get tangled up with a shopping cart.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@benwellsstreet

Maybe it should be restricted to amateurs.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

Yes, oddly enough, he seems like the one sane republican left in the country.

Who would've thought?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Figures. Isn't it the duty of former presidents to hang out and criticize and second-guess the actions of successors when they are of the opposite party?

George just paints and bicycles with wounded veterans, when he should be on the talk shows, writing op-eds and stuff, going after Obama. Lazy shit.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@James080

That's why George should get ahead of this thing. He's got the contacts, he knows the people who can blow up waterway obstructions.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...