Vision2 defeat constricts dam project
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Friday, November 09, 2012
Read more about the proposal and the status of Vision 2025 projects.
The $25 million in state bonds being challenged before the Oklahoma Supreme Court represent nearly all of the possible funding remaining for improvements to Zink Dam.
With the defeat Tuesday of Vision2 - which would have allocated $41 million for the dam - the project is now being designed with a projected budget of $28 million.
The funding would come from three sources: $25 million in state bonds and a total of $3 million in Vision 2025 and Four to Fix the County sales-tax revenue.
With fewer dollars available, the project's scope has been reduced. Rather than raising the dam three feet - from seven feet to 10 feet - it would be raised two feet. And rather than replacing existing gates and adding seven more to manage sediment flow and improve safety, only three or four gates would be added.
The loss of Vision2 funding all but ensures that a recreational flume and island planned for the east bank of the river as part of the Zink Dam improvements will not be constructed.
The three objectives of the renovation project are to improve sediment management and operation of the dam; provide more and better access to water along the east bank of the Arkansas River; and to make the dam safer by constructing its downstream side in a cascading fashion. Many drownings have occurred in the strong undertow on the south side of the dam, and emergency responders have referred to it as "the drowning machine."
In 2007, Congress passed the $23 billion Water Resources Development Act, which authorized $50 million for Arkansas River development projects. However, less than $100,000 of that has been appropriated, and local officials are not counting on it to become available any time soon.
Should the $25 million in state bond money become available, work on the project could begin as soon as the fall of 2013 and be completed in two years.
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313