We’ll start with a satellite view (thanks to Bing Maps) showing where the following photos were shot in numerical order. Think of this first image as number zero. The shots start at the head of the freshest clearing work near SE 104th and runs counterclockwise to the dam on the south end.
I have no way of showing everything, but the clearing work simply stops where SE 104th cuts down toward the lake shore and runs into the roadbed that was once Westminster Road, but has been used as a lake access road for some years. There are no survey stakes beyond the end of the clearing and the machinery has been moved back to one of the two parking areas for this project. This leads me to believe they intend running the trail alongside, or perhaps over, the old dirt roadbed of Westminster. That is represented on the satellite photo as a mostly reddish line that runs strait south, as much as possible, along the eastern shore starting with my number “01”. It’s also conveniently labeled in white.
That would make this part of the proposed bikeway one of two sections where it departs from chasing the main beltway road that circles the lake (image on the left), Stanley Draper Drive. Away from the lake, Westminster Road is a main thoroughfare out in eastern Oklahoma County. Where it stops at Draper Drive is about where the bikeway route stops chasing the ring road and dives off into the woods (above right) toward the current end point.
The trees uprooted for this project are dumped at this spot where Douglas Boulevard runs into the lake at the north end. This is one of the equipment parking areas, too. Behind that pile of mangled foliage is a grinder and a growing heap of shredded wood that can be used for some fill operations. Mixed with dirt, it’s a great way of filling mud holes in dirt roads. If you can see in the background behind all of that, on the right side of the image almost obscured behind the stop sign, there’s a digger and a packing roller marking the end of the current secondary dirt grading work on the trail. It stops at the bank of East Elm Creek.
So here’s my main complaint in all of this: poor hydrology. I’m not too impressed with how the engineers responded to potential washout spots. This image shows a fill to account for a sharp drop in the path. Instead of routing back off the road a bit, into the woods where the slope is not so sharp, they built a ramp that doesn’t account for our seasonal heavy rains. On the backside of that ramp is a low spot that will surely collect water the next time it rains hard, and there’s no place for the water to go but to run down along the base of the ramp and wash it away. In a couple of years, this thing will start breaking down.
Farther around the lake at my number “06” is this spot where there has already been some washout running across the construction (right). They can’t simply block the drainage built into the original road, but there are no rocks under this packed dirt. Here in central Oklahoma’s red clay soil, where there’s water you need rocks to stabilize the soil.
Whether the water is flowing or not makes no difference. Farther around the lake at my number “07” is this swampy spot (image above left). It was created when the paved road was built. The engineers just ran straight through it, filling it with dirt only. Sure, they put in a culvert and had to pump out the swamp to do it, but the issue is not flowing water, not in a swamp. The issue is water saturating a simple dirt fill. Once it rains a couple of times and the swamp refills, this fill bed will begin to soften and collapse because there’s no rock fill inside the dirt. Even better, they should have routed off to the right just long enough to get around this swamp.
Near the marina is the other equipment parking area (above right). This is where the first asphalt was laid. This is also near the other section where the route runs away from the main ring road around the lake. The point south and adjacent to the marina is Point 4, and the bikeway runs along the old shore road, then up through the woods and back to the main road. This is a smart diversion from the boredom of simply chasing Draper Drive.
This image (left) shows the bikeway path dropping down from the main road as you approach from the south. It doesn’t actually go to Point 4, but comes relatively close. As you might expect, at some point this bikeway has to cross the main road because it can’t be built on the high side of the dam. Thus, it does cross near the entrance to Point 1 (right). This image shows another hydrology issue that runs throughout the whole project: The trail is well below the natural ground level most of the way. I don’t know if they plan to leave these embankments along both sides, but there are places where it drops almost a meter below the soil level, and this just invites more drainage problems. I’m sure they did this to save money; it’s cheaper than a proper build-up using gravel and so forth.
The other end of the construction work ends at the west end of the dam (left). The dirt work is just visible across the way on the far side of the main road. I’m standing on an artificial berm piled up from scraping up the dirt for the bikeway. The view is across the intersection at the west end of the dam, where the water treatment facilities are clustered near the old water tower. Behind me is a row of survey stakes running down below the dam (image right, shot from a different angle), and I suppose part of the delay in pushing farther is because of the ongoing facilities construction already underway down in the bottom. I tried to follow the stakes with my eyes, and they march heedlessly straight across several obstacles that will complicate construction.
This last image shows the view downslope below the dam from the east end. Somewhere out there about a quarter-mile is where the survey stakes end for now. I have no way of estimating how they plan to connect the two current ends around the east side of the dam. This is where the pipeline from Atoke Lake and McGee Creek Reservoir come up, so it has to run outside the ring road there. But with the hydrology mistakes I’ve already seen, this thing will require significant repairs within the first two or three years after those weak sections are paved, never mind when the rest of the project is finished.