By Brooke Hill | Staff Writer
Just as perfect fall walking, running and bicycling weather sets in, the Lake Waco dam trail will be closed to pedestrians.
Crews have started on a $1 million project to reconstruct the top of the dam to fix deep cracks up to 6 inches wide on the top of it, according to Jeff Boutwell, Recreation Business Line Manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The people who normally walk up there, this impacts them because it’s a part of their routine, but it’s necessary for safety reasons,” Boutwell said. “They’re going to be tearing up part of the pavement and everything and there’ll be big trucks and stuff up there, and that’s not a good mix.”
Corps lake manager Heath McLane told the Waco Tribune-Herald that the overall integrity of the dam is not endangered, but the problem needs to be addressed before it gets worse. Crews will scrape the asphalt and base off the dam trail and dig out 3 feet of clay beneath. They will repack the clay, then replace the base and asphalt, adding a three-foot-wide ribbon curb on the downstream edge of the dam.
“It’s just fixing some big cracks and stuff on top of the dam up there on that road, and they wanted to fix that to keep that water from getting inside of the dam,” Boutwell said.
The trail hasn’t been touched up since it was built in 2000 as part of a $6.5 million project to raise the height of the dam. It has been popular among pedestrians and cyclists, and has previously been used for races.
Jennifer Martinsen, Baylor Part-Time Lecturer in the Department of Health, Human Performance & Recreation, said that some good alternative walking, running and cycling trails can be found at Cameron Park, Cottonbelt Trail or Woodway Park trails, although her personal favorite spots are in Cameron Park.
“[Cameron Park] is beautiful; you don’t even know you’re in Waco anymore,” Martinsen said. “Most of my students had never been there before, or if they had, they’ve just done the river trail.”
Martinsen emphasized that although the river trail is beautiful, there are many hidden gems within the park waiting to be discovered by more citizens.
Boutwell said the dam project should be completed in about three months and the trail will be reopened to the public as soon as possible.