The low water Zink Dam and the former pedestrian bridge span the Arkansas River near 31st Street on Monday, July 20, 2020. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World

Correction: This story originally incorrectly described the status of a budget amendment for funding Zink Dam construction. The story has been corrected.

City councilors had a first reading Wednesday of a proposed budget amendment to fill a funding gap in the Zink Dam reconstruction process. The council is expected to vote on the amendement next week.

The amendment transfers $6.35 million from the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget into the Zink Dam project to cover a revenue shortfall.

City Engineer Paul Zachary said the money will be used to stabilize the east bank of the Arkansas River near the Gathering Place and the flumes on the east side of the river.

“We want to stabilize that bank completely,” he said.

The dam project is expected to take 28 months to complete.

“What the contractor would like to start doing (in August) is getting the access roads built in there and start to get the material delivered, and set up an office,” Zachary said. “We’ll start seeing activity on the west bank, which will end up closing the trail.”

Tulsa voters approved $46 million for reconstruction of the dam and another $2 million for river bank stabilization as part of the 2016 Vision Tulsa sales tax package. The city has spent approximately $13 million on the project so far, including nearly $6 million to design, engineer and permit the dam. The remainder of the funds were used to purchase 15 new gates for the dam.

The key elements of the Zink Dam reconstruction project include replacing and increasing the number of gates, from three to 15. The gates will range in height from 3 feet to 10 feet. The tallest gates in the existing dam are 7 feet high. A 1,000-foot-long flume for kayaking and other water activities will be built along the east bank of the Arkansas River south of the pedestrian bridge. And Tulsans will finally get a true Zink Lake, with water backing up to well north of the 21st Street Bridge.

City officials announced in May that they would need to come up with $4 million to $8 million to fully fund the project.

Zachary said the exact number turned out to be $8.4 million. About $4 million was needed to fill the gap between the winning bid from Crossland Construction and what the city had budgeted for the project. The additional $4.5 million will be used to pay for inspection services, services during construction, and final design.

The approximately $2 million difference between the $6.3 allocated by the City Council on Wednesday and $8.4 the city expects to need will be made up through cost savings the city expects to realize as the project moves forward.

The $6.3 million transfer comes from four sources: $2.5 million each from the River West Choice Grant neighborhood project and the Hager Creek drainage project at 81st Street and Elwood Avenue; $859,000 in bond premiums; and $488,000 in left over funds from completed projects.

Zachary stressed that the transfers will not result in any less funding for the River West or Hager Creek projects, nor will they affect the timing of the projects, because they are being done in phases.

“We don’t need the money for those until fiscal year 2022,” Zachary said. “The money will be appropriated in FY 2022 to those projects.”

Work on the new pedestrian bridge is expected to begin in October or November.

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Kevin Canfield


Twitter: @aWorldofKC

Staff Writer

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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