Friday, November 7, 2014

Another stretch of flood damaged pathway along Elbow River reopened

Approximately one and a half kilometres of damaged pathway along the Elbow River across from the Stampede Grounds has now been restored and reopened to the public after the 2013 flood.

“Entire chunks of the pathway in the area broke away and fell into the river when the flood waters hit,” says Pathway Lead Duane Sutherland, City of Calgary. “The pathway is an important route along the Elbow River for commuters and other users, so it was critical to make the area safe again.”

A combination of traditional techniques such as rip rap boulders, and bioengineered bank stabilization techniques called gabion and crib wall structures were used to restore and stabilize the riverbank so the pathway could be rebuilt. 

A gabion wall structure is made up of several rock baskets stacked together. Soil and natural plant materials, like live willow stakes, are layered between the rocks. A crib wall structure uses interlocked cedar logs further strengthened by live willow stakes.

Live plants are more resilient

“What makes these techniques unique and innovative is the use of live natural plant materials, like
Gabion wall interwoven with live natural willow stakes.
the live willow stakes in combination with the structures,” says Sutherland.

When the live natural plant materials grow out, they grow back into the bank and better reinforce it, making it more resilient and less likely to break away during future high water events. It also provides habitat for fish and other river life. 

Back to their original state

The structures also help create a softer, more natural appearance for the area than when typical rip rap boulder bank armour is only used. The aim is to return natural and green spaces back to their original state as closely as possible so we can continue to enjoy the city’s beautiful rivers and landscapes.

In addition to repairing the pathway and stabilizing the river bank, we also capitalized on the opportunity to widen the damaged pathway from 2.5 to 3.0 metres when it was rebuilt – maximizing the design and construction efforts already mobilized in the area. 

Thanks for your patience

Crib wall with cedar logs and live willow stakes.
“We’re really pleased with the outcome of this project and the opportunity we had to give such an important pathway link back to citizens, not only new but improved,” says Sutherland. 

“Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we worked to rebuild this pathway, and for continued patience and cooperation as we go on to finish up other pathways and riverbanks.”

More information and updates on the flood recovery efforts

Submitted by Erin Martinez, Parks

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