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Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 10:07 a.m.

Argo Dam update: Headrace reconstruction project to take place this summer

By Ryan J. Stanton

A design-build team led by TSP Environmental has submitted a permit application to the state of Michigan, seeking approval to begin reconstruction of the Argo Dam headrace.

The state can take up to 90 days to review and issue a permit, said Brian Steglitz, the city of Ann Arbor's senior utilities engineer.

Construction cannot commence until a permit is received, Steglitz said.


A view of the Argo Dam headrace last fall from the earthen embankment.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Ann Arbor City Council voted in November to move forward with the $1.17 million project, which includes reconstructing the Argo Dam headrace and earthen embankment along the Huron River, as well as adding whitewater amenities and making trail improvements.

The city is contracting with TSP Environmental to do the work. TSP is partnering with Beckett and Raeder and Recreation Engineering and Planning.

Gary Lacy, an engineer with Colorado-based Recreation Engineering and Planning, originally told city officials last fall he hoped to get started on the project this winter while the ground was still frozen — as opposed to muddy — and complete the work by early summer.

Steglitz said today the project deadline has not changed — it remains Nov. 1 — but the work will be completed primarily during the summer.

The headrace is a 1,500-foot canal of sorts that breaks off from the Huron River just before Argo Dam, allowing canoeists and kayakers to bypass the dam to get to downriver destinations such as Gallup Park and other points east.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment has been after the city to address safety concerns with the earthen embankment that buffers the headrace from the parallel river. The $1.17 million project is expected to take care of those concerns.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

This has been a beautiful area with a nice path for bicycling, jogging, walking. I hope for the same after reconstruction.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

An e-mail update from Colin Smith, the parks manager: "I would say there was a hope that construction could start in the winter, but the original plan and expectation had construction taking place throughout 2011, with a deadline from the State of Nov 11. As mentioned at PAC, it took longer than expected for the contractor to get the necessary insurance, etc. As for recreation impacts, staff had already planned with the expectation that the millrace would be closed for the 2011 season. Livery staff will adapt the Argo to Gallup trip so that it begins in the area of Riverside park. The longer Barton to Gallup trip will likely become Delhi to Argo. Rowing at Argo pond will not be affected. The City will be sending press releases regarding all of this in April."

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

@Top Cat - I've been trying since yesterday to get an answer to that question. So far I haven't been able to get a solid answer from anyone at the city.

Top Cat

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

To what extent if any will this construction interfere with our ability to canoe downstream from Argo ?