Corps: Work on Tecumseh access should begin soon

Tecumseh mess: Except for a few months last spring, the Tecumseh access has been barricaded to vehicle traffic for nearly two years. The US Army Corps of Engineers says work should begin soon to repair the access, which was heavily damaged during the record April 2017 flood. The Corps said the project, which includes rebuilding the road, parking lot and boat ramp, should be completed in May if there are no complications from high water or winter weather. Times photo/Jessi Dreckman

The work to rebuild the Tecumseh boat ramp and road at the Norfork Lake access on Highway 160 should begin this month, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer project manager Mark Case. The project’s timeline has shifted about a month later than it was original projected, he said. 

Case told the Times recently that his team has a final meeting scheduled with the project contractor, Olgoonik, on Jan. 21, and work should begin shortly after. The projected timeline for completion is now mid-May. 

Olgoonik, the prime contractor for the project, has subcontracted Marion County Paving of Yellville, Arkansas, to complete the work, Case said. 

“However, high water or bad weather can delay the date,” Case said. 

The park and its lake access were heavily damaged when the North Fork of the White River and Bryant Creek, which merge a short distance north of the park, reached an all-time high in late April 2017, rising in an unbelievable torrent that roared over the Highway 160 bridge at Tecumseh during a historic area-wide flood. 

The access and adjoining campground remained hidden beneath the swollen lake water until October 2017. After the water finally receded, it was apparent that the access had been impacted in a huge way. The asphalt of the roadway and parking lot was ripped away from the earth, much of it  swept away in the water. The boat ramp was completely gone, the campground and pit toilets were destroyed, and the lakeside banks had become a treacherous mess of debris, holes and uneven ground. 

After assessing the damage over a two-month span in November and December 2017, the Corps developed a plan and cost estimate for renovating the area. 

The new plan, estimated to cost $1 million, includes rebuilding the roadway, parking lot and boat ramp, but the campground will not be rebuilt. Instead, the Corps plans to clean up all the debris and plant the access area in flood-resistant trees and vegetation. 

The new boat ramp will be slightly larger than the previous ramp. The parking area, located just above the boat ramp, will also be replaced. 

A portable toilet and solar light will be installed, providing users with a bathroom and lighted access at night. 

During a February 2018 meeting, the Corps presented the new plan and cost estimate to about 70 local residents at The Center in Gainesville. At that time, work was scheduled to begin in December 2019 with an estimated completion date of April 2020. Case says that has shifted about a month longer now.

A barricade was installed in March 2018 to deter residents from driving vehicles down to the access. It was opened for a few months last spring when other lake accesses were under water. It is now closed again and will likely remain so until work is complete. Fisherman can access the area by foot. 

For more information about the project contact the Mountain Home, Arkansas, Corps office at 1-870-425-2700 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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