No News on Dam Service Road Yet
There’s nothing really new to report on efforts now underway by local and elected officials to reopen Canyon Lake Dam’s popular service road to the public.
However, Jen Crownover, Comal County Commissioner, Pct. 4, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “has been very accommodating” and that rough drafts of modifications are now being formalized.
She’s also in the process of forming a citizen committee to “hash out” fundraising efforts that would underwrite the cost of bringing the popular trail into compliance with federal guidelines for people with disabilities.
“Some ideas are coming together, and will be amazing,” she said. “I have a few details we need to figure ot before I can go public about them, though.”
In early June, Crownover spearheaded a closed-door meeting with representatives from Water-Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORDCC.com), Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA.org), Comal County Engineer Tom Hornseth as well as USACE officials from both Canyon Lake and Fort Worth District attended the meeting. A representative from U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s office was there.
USACE closed the road without warning on May 21, citing safety concerns.
The move was resoundingly criticized by residents, who like to walk the dam and enjoy the scenic vistas only available from there. A petition posted on change.org, asking politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz to keep the dam open, attracted 18,400 signatures.
Shortly after the road was closed — with no explanation — Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook explained the USACE was dialing back on “well-intentioned operational decisions that unfortunately excluded users with disabilities.”
However, the U.S. Access Board, an independent federal agency created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, said in a May 29 email to MyCanyonLake.com, that the USACE “flatly refused to make the trail accessible” and only needs to widen pedestrial access points to 36 inches and provide greater maneuvering clearance to bring the road into compliance with federal regulations.
Dave Yanchulis, who works in Public Affairs, said the USACE also reclassified the Canyon Lake Crest Trail as a road which, the Corps argued, would exempt them from meeting Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards.
USACE did not provide additional details about its decision to close the road, which was sparked by a May 22, 2017 complaint filed with the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that the pedestrian access points to reach the Canyon Dam Crest Trail were not accessible to those who use wheeled mobility devices, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Despite lengthy communication between USACE and the U.S. Access Board aimed at resolving the issue, USACE closed the road last month. U.S. Access Board said they learned of the closure through media accounts.