With previous works of art in both urban and rural environments, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to respecting and protecting the environment. This commitment remains equally as strong for Over The River. The installation team will work closely with nearby communities, local governments, the Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Transportation and other agencies to avoid or minimize impacts during the construction of Over The River. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Bureau of Land Management notes that “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 total installation period for Over The River is anticipated to take just over two years, but due to a phased construction approach, the disturbance to any single location will be brief. According to the BLM’s Final EIS: “At a specific panel location, the noise and activity associated with drilling would remain within a quarter-mile during a 5-day period and then move beyond that distance, resulting in a diminishment of noise and other disturbances.”
The construction activities are expected to cause negligible to minor traffic delays. At no time will both lanes of US-50 be closed. The contractor hired to construct the project has already identified the types of equipment to use that will ensure that this commitment is fulfilled. The Final EIS concludes that any single-lane closures would involve a 400-foot stretch of the highway in any 10-mile section. Each lane closure is estimated to cause an average delay of just three minutes per vehicle. Temporary lane closures and construction activities on the highway side of the river would also be largely avoided during the high-traffic summer months (with a few exceptions during the year of the exhibition). When combined, the BLM estimates that all construction-related delays will cause approximately a one percent increase in overall travel time for the 28-month installation period.
Furthermore, the artists have proposed a multitude of other mitigation measures to help minimize construction impacts. To help alleviate noise impacts, the team has proposed the use of mufflers on the drills, acoustic shrouds, and quieter back up alarms on equipment. There are also various measures to help prevent erosion and sedimentation of the river, such as sediment fences, rubber mats, and treads on equipment disturbance areas. The anchor drilling equipment will be fitted with a specially designed vacuum system that significantly reduces dust, and any excavated soil generated from drilling for anchor sites would be collected and disposed of.
Most importantly, the Arkansas River Valley will be restored to preconstruction conditions after the project is complete. All visible elements of the project will be removed and the surface-level holes will be refilled with BLM-approved, weed-free top soil. The ground will be restored to its original contours, and any areas requiring re-vegetation will be seeded with a BLM-approved native plant mix. Depending on the terrain, some anchors will remain deep in the ground and not be visible. There will be no lasting environmental impacts after the project is complete.
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