USACE Closes Road Along Dam
The service road along Canyon Lake Dam permanently closed on Monday following a formal complaint alleging the walkthrough is too narrow for indiviuals with disabilities.
In a press release issued by its Fort Worth district, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) said only authorized persons and vehicles will now have accesss to what is widely viewed as one of the most spectacular vistas in the area.
Meanwhile, Canyon Lake Dam will continue normal operations of flood-risk management, water supply and other responsibilities.
Although it cites public safety as the reason for the closure, Canyon Lake Area Chamber of Commerce confirmed on its Facebook page the Corps is dialing back on “well-intentioned operational decisions that unfortunately excluded users with disabilities.”
“The reality is that the service road was never designed for recreation use, but over the years members of the public have viewed it more as a trail than a service road,” the chamber posted.
In July 2017 the U.S. Access Board notified the Department of Defense Disability Programs Office of a formal complaint alleging a violation of the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 at Canyon Dam.
To avoid further access exclusions of users requiring wheeled devices unable to pass through walkthroughs, the USACE closed the dam to all public use.
“The USACE’s decision to close the road will allow the district time to determine the scope of work and the regulatory compliance requirements for any corrective measure and/or improvements, as well as addressing budgetary issues,” the chamber said on its Facebook page.
5:30 p.m. Update from Jen Crownover, Comal County Commissioner Pct. 4
“Today has been a tough day for residents of Canyon Lake with regard to the closing of our beloved dam to pedestrian traffic.
That being said, I’ve been in contact with many levels of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and we are working together to brainstorm some possible solutions. I’m confident that we will come up with something. We have many motivated partners, and a community that I truly will believe will step up when asked. More details forthcoming as a strategy develops. Keep those wonderful pictures coming. Let’s keep the wonderful message going of what a beloved part of this community’s fellowship that the Canyon Dam serves.
However, earlier today, Crownover told constituents on her Facebook page that short of an act of the U.S. Congress, there’s not much the public can do to overrule the USACE’s decision.
“Once the complaint was filed, this is the unfortunate result that we all have to live with now. The Dam cannot be brought into ADA compliance without significant alteration to the dam, which would cost significant money that is not there,” she said.
Clayton Church, public affairs specialist, Fort Worth District, U.S.A.C.E., responding to an email query, said there is no projected date for reopening the road.
“If we openly invite the public to use the crest of Canyon Lake Dam as a paved trail, we must ensure the safety of all using the road,” he wrote. “There are safety and accessibility requirements, such as curbing, handrails and possibly dedicated lanes, that are needed to ensure the safety of all users. Placing these types of safety and accessibility requirements need to be done in consultation with dam safety and water control experts to ensure such actions do not interfere with Canyon Lake Dam’s primary purposes of flood damage reduction and water supply in addition to budgetary constraints.”
The Fort Worth District was established in 1950 and is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and SWF Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/usacefortworth/.
The wheel chair access problem was just an excuse for the dam to be closed. The colonel in charge of the dam doesn’t want to be bothered with people period. He was also responsible for the removal of the benches that used to be on the dam. What excuse was used for that decision? No more people, no more problems or work for the staff!
What happend to common sense? Really, all of the new laws and restrictions and trying to please everybody. It’s a risk to walk the trails and dam, it always has been, so what? I think that’s partly why I or better yet, we all like it. We don’t sign a waiver while gazing over a the Grand Canyon and there are many, many areas there in Arizona, New Mexico, etc. that are open with no railing and with public access. How stupid! Many and myself have walked the dam for rehabilitation over 20 years. The dam serves for all of us a much greater value to be opened than closed. We exercise and heal from its use. We don’t need rails on the side, we use it for walking and nothing else bigger than what’s already there. Many, many disabled people use the dam and have for 50 years and now because a few can’t, we close it down, how inconsiderate to the rest of us that have had so much pleasure out of it. My father and my son who serves in the Army and was home on leave were here visiting this week and didn’t get to visit it, for possibly the last chance they had, this is very upsetting. My wife and I walked that dam everyday until our son was born for 9 months. I passed many disabled folks and never saw one fall off the side or have issues with the gate. This is a sad day when we try to get every single person in the world acces to every point on earth, it’s just not possible. Just think about the prevention of bad health the dam has given this community with few flat paved areas to walk, and the burden we prevent on an already broken healthcare system, that alone is a value in itself.
I am a friend of Joan Kemple and I know that she did not file the complaint. She and the friend she was with on the Crop Walk just made the suggestion for how motorized wheelchairs could be accommodated with a minimum of expense. I have to assume that the person that made the complaint thought a simple accommodation would be made – not that the road would be closed to all. In my opinion the COE has greatly over-reacted.
I agree. Problem is, now, it’s done, and bureaucrats aren’t famous for saying “We screwed up”.
Shameful, selfish behavior from whoever filed the formal complaint. Foolish and shortsighted but predictable bureaucratic response from a federal group. Let’s all hope and pray that nobody tells the USACE about the accessibility of trails in our national parks.
Totally agree Doug!! Corps has been formulating a plan about its parks and lake level now going on 20 years. And still have no idea. Our tax dollars at work!
Wait till some cripple decides to try going down the hillside “trail” leading to the water up near the restroom. After they leave the hospital, they may file another complaint, and that’ll be closed off the everyone else, too.
And what if one of ’em decides that if THEY can’t wakeboard on the water, it’s not right anyone else can either. There’s another complaint waiting to happen, now this thing’s got started.
So Joan Kemple are you saying you or your friend in the wheelchair were the ones to file the complaint? Hope you enjoyed breaking the hearts of thousands of people who used to love to walk across the dam.
Just another example of how if you can’t accommodate ALL, the answer is to accommodate NONE. One person lodges a complaint because they can’t access something and this is the answer. Clearly the desires of some are more important than the majority. Sorry that you have a disability, I do too. But I’m not so self absorbed that I think everything needs to accomodate MY needs.
From what I was told it’s not only a matter of the gate, but now ACLU is involved there are a whole list of things needing to be corrected. The area needs to be widened with rails ( I would guess the whole length on both sides)! Cost would be astronomical!
My friend, in a wheel chair, could only enjoy going across the Dam when the gates were opened for the Crop Walk. We suggested to the Ranger that they install a gate opened,available only to qualified people
.It could be a card, such as used in gated communities. The hand rails could be installed or paid for, by volunteers who loved being able to enjoy the beauty of Canyon Lake
Did you or your friend in the wheelchair file the complaint?
Next: Canyon Lake to be closed to all users because of ADA noncompliance? No suitable restrooms accessible to everyone?