Below are some commonly asked questions about Over The River. Click on any question to view the answer.
Over The River is a two-week temporary work of art by world-renowned artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artist’s plan to suspend horizontally a total of 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels high above the Arkansas River along a 42-mile stretch of the river between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado. Fabric panels will be suspended at eight distinct areas of the river that have been selected by the artists for their aesthetic merits and technical viability.
Over The River involves two different viewing experiences: one from the highway, where the fabric will reflect the colors of the sky, from the golden morning sunlight to the various hues of the sunset; the other from the water level, where rafters, kayakers and canoeists will be able to view the clouds, sky and mountain contours through the translucent fabric.
Christo received federal approval for the project in November 2011; however, due to pending litigation the installation schedule has been temporarily postponed. Over The River has received favorable rulings on two of the three legal challenges to the two-week temporary work of art. The only legal challenge yet to be ruled on is in federal court.
Christo will identify the exhibition date and secure the few remaining permits when the legal process is successfully resolved. Over The River will be exhibited for two consecutive weeks during a future August. Project activities not related to physical construction, such as continuation of the bighorn sheep habitat treatment program are ongoing.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s previous temporary works of art have drawn visitors from around the world, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tourist spending for hosting communities. For example, their most recent project, The Gates in New York City’s Central Park in 2005, attracted an estimated 4 million visitors, generating more than $250 million in economic activity.
In the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) projected that Over The River will bring a total of 416,000 visitors to the Arkansas River Valley, including 344,000 visitors during the two week exhibition period and 72,000 visitors during installation and removal combined. The BLM also estimates that Over The River will generate more than $121 million in total economic output throughout Colorado. (ROD pg. 2)
Christo understands that traffic is one of the most important concerns of the region. Throughout the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has worked closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to minimize traffic impacts caused by the temporary work of art.
With implementation of several mitigation measures, the Final EIS determined that traffic delays during the project’s construction and removal periods would be negligible. During the two-week exhibition period, travelers can expect a maximum travel time increase of 17 minutes in the westbound direction and 11 minutes in the eastbound direction for the project’s full 42-mile drive. However, this would only be the case during two Saturdays and two Sundays, and delays would be far less during the non-peak days of the exhibition.
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Christo and Jeanne-Claude have always believed that the natural environment, including all wildlife, is one of the Arkansas River Valley’s greatest treasures. The artists bring to Over The River a documented and unwavering commitment to conservation and are dedicated to avoiding or minimizing all potential impacts related to noise, vegetation, air quality and water quality during the construction and removal phases, as well as during the two-week viewing period. In fact, the artists altered their artistic design, installation schedule and the viewing period to be sensitive to wildlife and the environment.
The construction and viewing periods have been carefully scheduled around breeding and nesting seasons. Construction buffer zones will be created near potentially active eagle nests and around designated sheep areas. Christo will entirely fund a new wildlife corridor that the Colorado Division of Wildlife has long sought, thus providing an improvement for bighorn sheep that will last long after Over The River is removed. Because of these and more than 100 other mitigation measures, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) determined in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that there will be no “Significant Impacts” to any terrestrial, avian or aquatic wildlife as a result of Over The River.
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Christo understands the importance of the fishing and rafting industries to the Arkansas River Valley and is committed to working with these groups in planning and executing the temporary work of art. The artists have already adjusted the proposed placement of some panels and other design characteristics in response to feedback from the fishing and rafting industries.
Because Over The River is designed to be experienced from both US-50 and the river below, the temporary work of art presents great opportunities for the Valley’s rafting industry. The viewing period is scheduled to occur in late summer, which minimizes impacts to the traditional rafting industry while also extending their traditional busy season. In fact, the Bureau of Land Management estimated an additional $3.4 million in rafting industry revenue as a result of Over The River.
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Christo and Jeanne-Claude have committed to installing Over The River with as little interruption as possible to the daily lives of local residents. In the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) explains: “Overall, the quality of life for most residents would be unaffected by installation and removal activities. The influx of additional visitor spending and temporary increase in the incomes of local residents would be a benefit to the area.”
The vast majority of impacts during installation will be limited to the direct areas where anchors will be drilled and installed. This entails only 15% of the Arkansas River Valley between Salida and Cañon City. Additionally, because the construction is done in phases, the duration of disturbance is relatively brief at any one location.
At times, the installation process will require temporary one-lane closures on US-50. However, these short-term one-lane closures would involve no more than a 400-foot stretch of the highway in any 10-mile section, causing an average delay of just three minutes per vehicle. Both lanes of US-50 will never be closed.
Additionally, the artists have committed to using drill mufflers, acoustical shrouds and quieter back-up alarms on vehicles to minimize noise disruption during construction. The installation team will also develop and strictly adhere to a construction routing/scheduling plan to minimize the impacts to the environment.
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