$3.9M Dallas Wave Wipes Out

City says white water project on Trinity River has design flaw

By Ashanti Blaize
|  Thursday, May 26, 2011  |  Updated 7:14 PM CDT
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The city admits a design flaw makes the

Ashanti Bliaze, NBCDFW.com

The city admits a design flaw makes the "Dallas Wave" at the Trinity River too dangerous for even experienced kayakers.

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The city of Dallas is asking paddlers not to use a multimillion-dollar project promising a white water experience on the Trinity River because of a design flaw.

The $3.9 million Dallas Wave is a very difficult Class 3 white water feature on the Trinity River paddling trail that opened May 10.

But the city says the project has a design flaw in a safety bypass intended to allow paddlers to go around the Dallas Wave.

Willis Winters, assistant director for planning, design and construction with the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, said the city is asking paddlers to portage, or carry their watercraft over land, around the two waves.

The city has posted signs about it upstream, Winters said.

The bypass has two steps that create treacherous, turbulent water. The city is working with the designer on a safer design -- a project that could cost the city another $200,000.

Kayaker Teresa Patterson said she nearly drowned in the bypass shortly after the paddling trail opened.

She and Beathan Miller were excited to try out the paddling trail when it opened.

"The river was running perfect," Patterson said. "The only thing we weren't sure of was the wave."

She said they were told the bypass was safe.

"That morning, Beathan ran into someone who was working at the Wave who assured him that the bypass was running nicely and was perfectly safe," Patterson said. "We were expecting like a bypass chute. What it is, is two drops -- basically two waterfalls with two big stone pillars separating [them] from the main wave."

Patterson said she ran into a jet that slammed her into a stone wall.

"I thought I'd cleared everything because I pushed away from the stone," she said. "He thought I'd cleared everything and then, all of a sudden, I was underwater."

She was stuck in an undertow between the white water waves and the bypass for 10 long minutes.

"I couldn't get to her, no matter how hard I tried," Miller said.

Patterson finally got free, but said she could have drowned without her scuba diving and kayaking background.

She and Miller said they aren't happy to hear that the city is working with the same designer who created the faulty bypass to fix it.

"I think, if they're going to still use him, that I should put him in my kayak and let him go down the river and then he can re-evaluate his choices," Miller said.

Patterson and Miller said they are not sure if they will trek down that part of the Trinity again.

"We have a skill level to be able to handle officially the wave, and we were doing the bypass," Patterson said. "We should have been fine, so there's a trust issue there."

Winters said the designer is working on a new design for the bypass. Any amount for the project that comes to more than $25,000 must be approved by the City Council.

The whole process could take months, with a redesigned bypass in place as soon as September.

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