In the process of developing final engineering plans, RiverScape River Run partners discovered new opportunities to improve the project, including improved access to the Great Miami River, a better experience for whitewater paddlers and stronger ties to the riverbank. Many of these opportunities weren’t available when the initial concepts for RiverScape River Run were being developed due to other downtown construction projects, such as I-75.
The improvements will require some modifications to the project design. As before, RiverScape River Run will feature two structures that span the Great Miami River, each with two passageways: one smooth water passageway for novice paddlers and one whitewater play feature. The first of these structures will be located, as previously planned, at RiverScape MetroPark. The second structure will be located where the low dam now exists, closer to the Dayton Art Institute and Dayton’s west side. The low dam still will be removed.
These project improvements will alter the project’s construction schedule. However, the project partners determined the improvements are significant enough to be worth the extra time required to develop and implement them.
Permit-level engineering of the new, improved final design will be completed later this fall. Final engineering will be completed later this year, and project partners anticipate bidding construction of the project in February 2015 and beginning construction of the in-river structures in July 2015, which is when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit allows construction in the river. (The Corps does not allow construction in the river during fish spawning season, which runs from April 15 to June 30.) A specific construction timeline will be developed after U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final approval of the modified design and after the construction contractor has been hired.
- Improved access to the river: Recent reconstruction of the Monument Avenue bridge provided a stairway, an accessible ramp and a vehicular ramp that can be used on the downtown side of the river by livery vehicles with trailers. On the opposite shore, an accessible ramp will be constructed at the conclusion of the I-75 construction. In addition, free parking is available for paddlers and spectators under the I-75 overpass on the downtown side of the river, adjacent to the stairway and ramps
- Improved whitewater play feature performance: Both kayak play features will have a greater hydraulic drop, which means improved quality of the wave, providing kayakers better conditions to perform cartwheels, flips and other aerial moves in the surf created by the drop.
- Stronger integration of the grade control structures into the existing bank: At each point, the new structures will tie to a concrete bank, ensuring Dayton’s excellent flood control protection remains at the highest standard.
“The new location of the second structure further downstream also allows the benefits of the project to be more broadly spread in the community,” said Carrie Scarff, Five Rivers MetroParks Deputy Director. “This location ties more strongly to the west side of Dayton, strengthening the river’s role as a uniting force in our city. RiverScape River Run will provide a way for everyone in our community to enjoy the river and experience the outdoors.”
In addition, new river access points will be established along both sides of the downtown riverfront and existing ones will be improved.
- New access points already have been developed on the east side of Dayton at Eastwood MetroPark.
- With construction of RiverScape River Run, additional improvements will be made on the east side to ensure access, including livery access, from Webster Street.
- Improved access on the north side of the river at the McPherson Town neighborhood is now being completed with two new stairways, and a new ramp to the top of the levee will be built near the neighborhood on Riverside Drive as part of the current I-75 reconstruction.
- On the west side of downtown, two new ramps have just been built at Fifth Street, one on each side of the river.
- As part of the RiverScape River Run project, new ramp access to the river will be constructed at Third Street on the west side of the river.
“The Dayton community is ahead of the trend in implementing an in-river whitewater feature,” Scarff said. “In-river construction does not provide the assurances of building on land, and Dayton’s commitment to uncompromised flood control requires that the excellence of the RiverScape River Run exceed standards required by most cities. While the project has presented some unique challenges, those challenges have presented unique opportunities to improve the project and its benefit to the community.”
Project partners have worked closely with the consultants, who have been recognized by their peers as industry leaders, to ensure a successful River Run. The consultants, Recreation Engineering and Planning (REP), specialize in dam modification, whitewater parks, and riverside design and restoration. The firm has 27 years of experience and has worked on more than 80 in-stream design projects — accounting for more than 80 percent of all the whitewater parks in North America. REP also was selected for its expertise in designing whitewater parks that integrate the river with the surrounding community and use natural-appearing engineering solutions, along with its expertise in designing parks that combine public safety, recreation and environmental improvement.
“RiverScape River Run remains among the most impactful projects planned for our region,” Scarff said. “River Run was identified as a high-priority project in the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan because of its potential to improve economic vitality and help regional businesses attract and retain top talent. Motivated by this potential, the greater Dayton community raised $4 million to fund this project, with funding coming largely from the private sector.”
Indeed, it’s anticipated RiverScape River Run will experience the same success as similar projects elsewhere in the United States. Reno, Nevada; Missoula, Montana; and Golden, Colorado; have seen tremendous positive impact to their downtowns as a result of building whitewater play parks.