Zink Dam

City of Tulsa

Work is resuming on Zink Dam after being on hold more than a month.

Project Manager Brooke Caviness told the City of Tulsa’s Sales Tax Overview Committee last week the temporary, earthen dam built to keep water out of the area while workers pour concrete was breached in late March because of higher-than-expected water flow in the Arkansas River.

"It was designed to hold back at least 40,000 cubic feet per second. On March 24, we had 47,000 cfs come through, and that’s when it overtopped," Caviness said.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa City Councilors are less than thrilled with the new Arkansas River pedestrian bridge after their latest look at it.

The Gateway Bridge will replace the old railroad bridge at Zink Dam. Previous renderings showed a structure built on a $35 million budget. That’s since been pared down to a design based on just the $27.4 million in public funds available.

At a presentation Wednesday, Councilor Crista Patrick quickly complained about the absence of shade.


While on-shore work has commenced for the new Zink Dam and Arkansas River pedestrian bridge, crews can’t get started in the river just yet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to approve a memorandum of understanding for the dam.

"It’s a three-way agreement between the city, the county and River parks, and it’s the high-level, 40,000-foot view of who’s going to do what to take care of the dam once it’s built. And that was a requirement of the Corps," said River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Water in the river.

It’s been a Tulsa idea since 1964, and it was still a major theme in community forums held by then-Mayor Bill LaFortune in 2002 to gauge what citizens wanted the city to invest in most.

"Here’s what they concluded, and I quote: 'It's the river, stupid,'" said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

City of Tulsa

The man managing replacement of Tulsa’s Arkansas River pedestrian bridge told a board that oversees sales tax–funded projects its estimated cost has fallen closer in line with its $27 million budget. 

Original estimates for the Gateway Bridge, which will connect the west bank River Parks trails with the Gathering Place along Zink Dam, put the cost as high as $35 million.