Chief Engineer and Director of Construction: Vince Davenport
Project Director: Jonita Davenport
On November 7, 2011, the US Department of the Interior announced its Record of Decision, giving Christo the necessary federal permit to realize Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado. This federal action is the final step of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is usually reserved for major infrastructures such as bridges, highways, dams and airports. The EIS for Over The River, the first ever completed for a work of art, began in the spring of 2009 and was prepared by the Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge Field Office, resulting in a 1,686 page comprehensive analysis. This evaluation identified all potential impacts and over 100 measures to mitigate traffic, safety, wildlife and other concerns.
On March 27, 2012, the Fremont County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Temporary Use Permit for Christo and Jeanne-Claude's temporary work of art, Over The River. On July 31, 2012, Christo announced that due to pending litigation, he will temporarily postpone the exhibition date. Site work will be delayed until two lawsuits and one administrative appeal filed against the United States Federal Government Bureau of Land Management and Colorado State Parks are successfully resolved. Project activities not related to physical construction, such as continuation of the bighorn sheep habitat treatment program and development of the Event Management Plan for the installation phase will continue. Christo will identify the exhibition year for Over The River and secure the few remaining permits as soon as these legal hurdles are cleared.
As with all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects, Over The River will be funded entirely through the sale of Christo’s original works of art. After the two-week exhibition, all visible components will be removed and industrially recycled.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's vision for Over The River was conceived in 1992 and includes 5.9 miles (9.5 kilometers) of silvery translucent fabric panels suspended clear of and high above the water in eight separate areas along a 42 mile (67.6 kilometer) stretch of the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida in southern Colorado. The stream of successive fabric panels will be interrupted by bridges, rocks, trees and bushes, and for esthetic and technical considerations. Steel wire cables, anchored on the upper part of the riverbanks, will cross the river and serve as attachment for the fabric panels, which will follow the configuration and width of the changing course of the river, 8 to 25 feet (2.4 to 7.6 meters) above the water.
In the USA, most of the rivers are born in the Rocky Mountains, some flowing east to the Mississippi River or the Gulf of Mexico, some flowing west to the Pacific Ocean. For the project, a river had to be chosen. The river should have high banks so that steel cables could be suspended, a road running continuously along the river, as well as both white and tranquil waters used for rafting.
In August 1992, '93 and '94, in search of a site for the project, Christo and Jeanne-Claude and their team traveled 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) in the Rocky Mountains in the United States. On those trips, the team prospected eighty-nine rivers in the Rocky Mountains, in seven states, and six possible locations were found. After visiting the six sites again in the summer of 1996, the Arkansas River in Colorado was selected.
The road running along the river will allow the project to be seen and enjoyed from above by car, bus or motorcycle, and from underneath the fabric panels by raft or kayak. Wide clearance between the banks and the edges of the fabric panels will create a play of contrast allowing sunlight to illuminate the river on both sides. When seen from underneath, the luminous and translucent fabric will highlight the contours of the clouds, the mountains and the vegetation. For a period of two weeks, the work of art Over The River will join the other recreational activities and the natural life of the river.
For current information about Over The River, visit the project's official website overtheriverinfo.com.