Part of Oklahoma River to remain dry until March

The east basin of the Oklahoma River was drained last week so that the city could complete several long-planned projects, public works director said.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: December 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm •  Published: December 15, 2012
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The menu of items retrieved from the bottom of the Oklahoma River this month reads like the assembly list for an unearthly piece of public art.

Two vehicles — one of the sport-utility variety — dozens of rubber tires, scattered pieces of furniture and a menagerie of shopping carts from grocery stores citywide are on the shortlist of riverbed debris, said the assistant director of public works for Oklahoma City.

Paul Bronson said most the rest is just thick river silt and mud.

“If you go down there and look now, you will see some tires, you will see a couple shopping carts here and there — they haven't all been pulled out yet because it's still kind of wet down in there,” he said.

The eastern part of the Oklahoma River — really three reservoirs, fed by the North Canadian River and contained by a series of gates — was drained last week for the first time in several years so that the city could take care of several long-scheduled projects.

On one end, contractors are building a trench and setting walls for an inland extension of the river that will bring it within 400 feet of the Bricktown canals.

The city's utilities department is laying a new underground wastewater line at the other end.

Eric Wenger, public works director, said the river will remain dry until the first week in March, when the gates at Eastern Avenue will be closed and the reservoir will again fill with water.

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