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 was 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 Over The River.
On July 31, 2012, Christo announced that due to pending litigation, he will temporarily postpone the Over The River installation schedule. 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.
On September 5, 2013, the Colorado District Court ruled in favor of the Colorado State Parks agreement allowing Christo to use portions of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area for Over The River. An earlier administrative appeal was resolved on June 28, 2013, when the Interior Board of Land Appeals upheld the BLM's approval to use federal lands for Over The River.
It is important to note that the pending legal action is directed against the BLM. The agency has approved Over The River and authorized the project to move forward. Over The River activities not related to physical construction, such as continuation of the bighorn sheep habitat treatment program are ongoing.
Through the sale of his original works of art, Christo funds 100-percent of costs associated with the permitting process, manufacturing, installation and removal of Over The River. This includes all direct expenses to create the temporary work of art, as well as costs that result from it (e.g. environmental analysis, traffic control, trash removal and sanitation). The temporary work of art will be created without public subsidy or taxpayer support, because Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted viewing fees, sponsorships or outside investments of any kind.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's vision for Over The River was conceived in 1992 and includes 5.9 miles (9.5 kilometers) of silvery, luminous fabric panels to be suspended clear of and high above the water in eight distinct areas along a 42-mile (67.6 kilometer) stretch of the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida in south-central 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, 1993 and 1994, 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, 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.
Christo has received the federal, state and local permits necessary to realize Over The River. A small, local group opposed to this temporary work of art is trying to stop the project. This group filed lawsuits against Colorado State Parks in State Court and against the United States Federal Government, Bureau of Land Management in U.S. Federal Court. Neither lawsuit is against Christo. Colorado State Parks won the lawsuit filed in State Court and it was again upheld in the Colorado Court of Appeals. The United States Federal Government, Bureau of Land Management won the U.S. Federal Court case and the opposition is appealing this decision. Christo will identify the exhibition date for Over The River once all legal challenges are successfully resolved.
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