Tuesday, January 28 2014, 07:38 PM MST
Crews Deepen Popular Shortcut at Lake Powell
(KUTV) Heavy construction equipment is in place for Wednesday's start to an excavating project at Lake Powell aimed at reopening a popular shortcut near Wahweap Marina.
Crews will dig down 20 feet and remove over 70,000 cubic yards of sandstone in an area known as the Castle Rock Cut. The shortcut has been closed since February, 2013, because of low water levels.
With the shortcut dried up, boaters have to take a lengthy and costly detour of about 10 miles each way in order to access the main part of the lake. The detour can add one to two hours of travel time depending on the type of boat.
"When you’re on vacation you want to get to your fun spot as quickly as you can," Project Manager Carl Elleard said, adding that using the shortcut is also safer for boaters.
The excavating will take four months to complete and will lower the channel's elevation to 3,580 feet, which is about equal to the lake's current level. As long as the water level rises this spring, boaters will once again be able to use the shortcut.
"It certainly is a safety issue," Elleard said. "It's also an environmental issue. If we can cut an hour off of the travel time of that many boats going through the recreation area then we have helped the emissions and helped the air quality."
Elleard said a similar dredging project in early 2013 lowered the elevation of Castle Rock Cut by seven feet to its current level. But water levels didn't rise enough in the spring to allow the shortcut to reopen.
Fees paid by boaters will be used to pay for the $1.6 million project.
By Ladd Egan
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)