Kayak Course Looks Swell
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
By MARGIE WOOD
Pueblo's long-awaited kayak course is rising in the Arkansas River,
and should be completed by March 15.
The eight pools of the course are visible in the water now, and even
the low-flowing water of winter manages to make modest whitecaps
over the Aquila power plant's diversion dam just downstream from the
West Fourth Street Bridge.
City planner Scott Hobson said eight "drop structures" of the kayak
course are completed on the side against the levee, and now the
river will be diverted to that side to enable workers to finish the
other side of the pools.
"They have to be done with that work by March 15, when winter
storage ends, and then we'll be landscaping the vegetated bars up
against the levee," Hobson said. Those bars will be terraces,
stabilized by rock held in place by a fabric cover, then landscaped
with native plants.
The kayak course doubles as a fish ladder and habitat improvement,
and it's only the most visible part of 9 miles of river restoration
work in the $8.8 million job called the Arkansas River Corridor
There are 15 W- or V-shaped weirs in the riverbed, each creating a
small pool on the downstream side, and 57 sets of four boulders that
interrupt the streamflow just enough to give fish a little pool and
place to rest and feed. The weirs function up to about 150 cubic
feet per second, Hobson said, and higher flows will go over the tops
of the weirs.
The structures of the kayak course will even out the drop from the
Aquila dam, making it possible for fish to travel upstream and
downstream. All this is supposed to be great for the fish and the
"I went up fishing one day after they got some of those structures
in and I didn't get a bite in three hours," Hobson said with a
chuckle. "But I've heard the fishing's been pretty good on the
In addition to finishing the pools, the project includes building a
box culvert coming off Aquila's bypass gate, 6 feet high by about 45
feet long, which will empty into the first pool of the course,
When the structures and the landscaping are finished later this
spring, the Army Corps of Engineers' part of the project will be
finished. Hobson said a ribbon-cutting ceremony will probably be
scheduled some time in May, but kayakers and fishermen will be able
to benefit from the project as soon as the work is done.
"Even at 60 cubic feet per second, the first pool is working the way
it's supposed to," he added. That's about the normal wintertime flow
in that part of the river, because much of the natural flow is being
stored behind Pueblo Dam for ditch companies and farmers to use
during the growing season.
The river trail from Dutch Clark Stadium to Santa Fe Avenue has been
torn up during the work, which also included moving a sewer line in
the riverbed through that area. The trail won't be restored for a
while, Hobson said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has plans to replace the
Fourth Street Bridge, but they have been delayed, according to Dean
Sandoval of CDOT.
"Realistically, we're a year-and-a-half out from advertising for
bids, and construction might start a few months after that,"
Sandoval said last week. State funding may still be an issue: "It's
about a $20 million project and we're presently several million
short," Sandoval said.
But Hobson said the rebuilding of the river trail from Fourth Street
up to Dutch Clark will wait on the bridge project. "If we rebuild
the trail, they'll just have to tear it up again when they replace
the bridge, so this summer it will probably be pretty rough," he
The trail below the bridge will be replaced this fall, after the
boating season ends. The city hopes for a CDOT grant to help with
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