Argo Dam headrace reconstruction moving along quickly on Huron River in Ann Arbor
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Work to reconstruct the Argo Dam headrace on the Huron River in Ann Arbor is moving along quickly, and many who've checked out the site lately say they're impressed.
"It's awesome," said Ann Arbor resident Doug Siewert, a whitewater kayaker who looks forward to testing out the newly improved dam bypass channel in the spring.
"I'm excited to see so much progress," he said. "And I'm just thankful that the City Council went ahead and approved the money for it, especially the tradeoff between just fixing the toe drains and having something beautiful for the city."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"Basically what we've done is taken a former diversion channel from the Huron River and built it into a series of nine pools for whitewater canoeing and rafting," said Robert Sherby, business manager for TSP Environmental, which has partnered with Beckett and Raeder and Recreation Engineering and Planning on the project.
"These rock formations are basically finished," Sherby said at the site on Wednesday. "This is basically the way it's going to look, just with obviously more water flowing."
A stop log remains in place, keeping water from flowing through the headrace. In the spring, that will be pulled and kayakers and canoeists will be able to venture down a free-flowing channel that connects directly to the river — now that a portage has been removed.
"It'll actually end up looking like a mini waterfall," Sherby said of the slight drops from pool to pool, which he said novice canoeists and kayakers should have no trouble with.
"I've seen us out here testing it and it looks like it's a pretty cool feature," he said. "It should be a lot of fun once it finally gets open and running."
Argo Dam and Argo Pond are located just north of downtown Ann Arbor, accessible off Main Street near the railroad tracks north of Depot Street and from the east of the river off Longshore Drive, where the city's canoe livery and parking facilities are located.
The city originally undertook the $1.17 million project in response to orders from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2009 to address concerns about the stability of the earthen embankment that separates the headrace from the main river channel.
The city decided to do more than just a bare-minimum fix of the toe drains, which would have cost about $700,000, and decided instead to pay extra for an improved amenity.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Two whitewater features in the Huron River, just after the bypass channel, are expected to come in 2012. DTE Energy has agreed to pay for them since the area is adjacent to DTE's property along the river and the company has to do remediation work there anyway.
The City Council voted earlier this week to use some of the cost savings from that to increase the scope of the project and have TSP Environmental construct an improved headrace entrance.
The current entrance is a narrow concrete culvert with low head clearance, and now that will be replaced with a more-attractive steel bridge.
Colin Smith, the city's parks manager, said the cost of the bridge will be entirely offset by the cost savings realized from DTE's commitment to pay for the whitewater features.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.