Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Not Enter Wichita Bluff Nature Construction Area?

Soon after my move to Wichita Falls, last May, I visited the Texas Travel Information Center to get whatever Wichita Falls info was available.

Among that which I acquired that day was a map of Wichita Falls. That map showed all the Wichita Falls city parks.

Over the following weeks, one by one, I checked out the Wichita Falls city parks.

The last one I checked out was the Wichita Bluff Nature Area. I was more than a little surprised to arrive at the location to find a new parking lot, benches, signage, paved trail and a "DO NOT ENTER CONSTRUCTION AREA" warning blocking the way under the sign you see above.

At that point in time, on that first visit, the fence blocking entry was knocked down, so I walked over it to check out the construction area. Eventually I found a structure and some paved trails. I could see the planned route of the continuation of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail. I was pleased to see this involved some elevation gain, which is a rarity in Wichita Falls, except for Mount Wichita in Lake Wichita Park.

It appeared to me on that first visit to the Wichita Bluff Nature Area that construction was stalled. It did not take much Googling to find out that that was indeed the case. After submitting the lowest bid a Fort Worth contractor was awarded the project. When one accepts a low bid it is always a good idea to carefully check the reputation of the bid winner before awarding the contract.

Evidently the contractor was not checked out before it was too late, and funds had been paid, and work done, with that work having some quality issues. The contractor was fired. The firing happened prior to my move to Wichita Falls.

And now, today, I checked in on the Wichita Bluff Nature Area to find that no construction is taking place in the area one is warned to keep out of due to construction. The only thing I saw that had been constructed since my last visit was an improved keep out barrier.

Way back when I learned about the problems with the Fort Worth contractor that same information source said the city was moving quickly to find a replacement contractor and hoped to have the project completed, if I remember right, by fall of 2016.

Methinks the Wichita Bluff Nature Area will be a great addition to the Circle Trail and will provide a good hiking venue with some actual hill climbing.

I hope whatever is causing the delay gets resolved and that the project does not turn into a Fort Worth style boondoggle that drags one for years.

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