FRANKLIN (AP) — Improvements to the Harpeth River should be completed and the area ready for visitors by the end of next month.
For 49 years before July, a small metal and concrete dam near Franklin had backed up the river for two miles, creating a pool of drinking water for the city.
Harpeth River Watershed Association Director Dorie Bolze told The Tennessean the dam also created a waterfall that fish couldn’t get over. And it tore up the riverbanks and reduced oxygen in a portion of the river.
Today rushing water tumbles between limestone boulders and fish swim freely. A stair-step embankment of logs along the bank will soon be planted with native grasses, flowers and trees.
The project was years in the making. The Franklin dam was the only one on the Harpeth and its removal has made the Harpeth the longest free-flowing river in the state.
The project cost about $850,000, which includes federal and state money. When it is complete, a new parking lot and access trails will allow fishermen, kayakers and others to enjoy the restored river.
“All too often people look at projects, especially if they’re government-funded, and say, ‘Oh, they’re inefficient, they’re slow, they don’t work well together,’” said Dan Allen, interim assistant director of engineering for the city. “This project hasn’t been like that.”