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    Accessible Dock & Fishing Pier

  • Universally Accessible Canoe and Kayak Launch - John H. Kerr Reservoir
  • Accessible Fishing Pier and Canoe/Kayak Dock B.A. Steinhagen Lake

    Inexpensive and effective method of providing shade over a picnic table

    Standard Designs
    Examples of successful recreational facility designs are presented here. If the designs or specifications are appropriate for your location, you are welcome to download them and modify them to your needs.

    Sustainable Design and Development (SDD)
    Whether you are modernizing an existing facility or building new, sustainable design and development (SDD) and energy efficiency should be factored into the design. Click on the Engineering Knowledge On-line link for additional information on SDD:

    5-year Periodic Inspection  Corps Castle
    As required in Chapter 7 of the recreation standards, a 5-year periodic inspection shall be performed at each project. SAD has developed an evaluation tool to conduct their 5-year periodic inspection. SAD took a regional team approach and inspected all areas at Hartwell Lake, Savannah District. The tool incorporates all the standards into a checklist for the team to use. Click here for the SAD tool and Hartwell Lake report example. Please note the tabs at the bottom for Service Level and FCI spreadsheet.

    Five Year Plan Example  Corps Castle
    West Point Lake developed a plan that provides an outline for how the project proposes to accomplishe repair and renovation of recreation area facilities and infrastructure. This document clearly identifies a problem, quantifies work, and establishes a plan for improvement.  Corps Castle

    Boat Ramps/Courtesy Docks

    Courtesy Docks
    Accessible Loading Platform for Boaters
    With permission of the USDA Forest Service, Technology & Development Center (Missoula, Montana), we have posted their July 2000 publication 9E92A43 which includes plans for accessible boat ramp designs for dry land loading and unloading.

    Accessible Downstream Fishing Ramp & Platform - Old Hickory Lake, TN
    On Old Hickory Lake in the Left Bank Tailrace Area, an accessible ramp and fishing platform were designed and constructed to allow persons with disabilities access to the good fishing below the dam. The work was done by contract and took 325 days (contract awarded May 2000) at a cost of $317,946 including all material and labor. The facilities were open for full use in April 2001. Feedback from Easter Seals suggests that users are delighted with the ramp.

    Fixed piers or stationary loading docks should be used if the water fluctuation difference is less than three feet. Stationary facilities offer advantages of universal accessibility, stability for the user, reduced maintenance and facility stability in wind, wave and rapid current action.

    Green River Lake, KY, has a minimal fluctuation of pool during the recreation season, and finds that stationary facilities are serving their customers well. Concrete structures were placed during the lake's winter drawdown.

    • Photos of completed work:
      • The concrete piers were placed during winter drawdown. Due to the very short construction season available at this lake, installation of a concrete structure was considered the most feasible method of providing a stationary facility.
      • This style of courtesy dock is very popular with boaters at Green River Lake, KY, where minimal pool fluctuations allow a stationary structure to remain usable throughout the boating season.
    • Scope of Work

    Wappapello Lake Courtesy Dock Grab Rail
    This courtesy dock grab rail was developed after a request by a user. He loved using our boat ramps with a courtesy dock because they made it easier for him to take his father fishing. His father was over 70 years old and had trouble keeping his balance when getting in and out of a boat. This grab rail was designed to give him something to help keep his balance. While the design was first made to assist an elderly user, now just about anyone that uses the courtesy dock will use the grab rail. As a water safety item it helps everyone maintain their balance when getting in or out of a rocking /moving boat. Our courtesy docks are made of steel so we were able to weld the post directly to the dock. The design is simple and can be made of metal or wood depending on your situation. A rubber bumper covers the post to protect boats from the post. They require little maintenace other than checking periodically to make sure the welds are solid. We made ours from galvized material to prevent rusting. We have not had to make any repairs to them and they have been in place over 8 years now. Our docks dont float and require adjustments as the lake rises and falls. During a fast lake rise these post help identify the docks location for boaters if the lake rises over the dock. Initial cost in materials was under $50.


    Campsite Markers
    At Rathbun Lake in Iowa and similarly used at Saylorville Lake Iowa are carsonite posts with plexiglass reservation card holders. The holders not only look good and hold the reservation card well, the cards are protected from the weather and plexiglass will not rust.

    At J. Strom Thurmond Lake, plexiglass is also used, but is placed on recycled plastic timbers. The timbers can come in any color and will not rot or deteriorate in the weather.

    Contract Specifications
    Using 2009 ARRA funding, Saylorville Lake awarded a contract to modernize 63 campsites in Prairie Flower Campground. The existing sites were gravel, many unlevel and all bordered with rotten-unsafe rail road cross-ties. Using the Corps facility standards, in-house staff designed each individual site to meet the standards, drain away water, and protect existing vegetation. All rail road ties were removed, sites hardened with concrete and a 42" diameter circle was formed. This circle was then filled with crushed limestone and a fire-ring was placed. Where site conditions allowed, sites were graded so that walls would be eliminated. Where this wasn't practical, landscaping block was used. After completion of the contract, Ranger staff seeded around the sites.

    Utility tables
    J. Strom Thurmond Lake utilizes a utility table near a pedestal grill. This table provides customers with a place to prepare meals and keep grilling utensils nearby.

    Impact Areas
    Typical procedure for impact site construction at J. Strom Thurmond Project, Savannah River, GA

    Interlocking block is being used at Nolin Lake, Kentucky. The block is replacing rotting timbers. The blocks weigh about 80 pounds each are 16 inches long and about 5 inches thick and 12 inches deep. At the time of purchase the blocks were $3.25 each as compared to about $14.25 for an 8 foot recycle material timber.

    Universal Accessibility
    A campsite at Saylorville Lake, Iowa was redesigned to meet current universal accessibility standards. The site was widened, clear space created around utilities and amenities. A sidewalk was installed in the back of the site connecting to a shower/restroom building.

    Entrance Stations

    Entrance Station Awnings
    The Corps Recreation Facilities Standards state that entrance stations with outside service windows should provide an overhang or porch to protect the customer during inclement weather. Instead of installing a permanent overhang, the staff at Carr Creek Lake learned that a good option is a roll-out awning of the type used on RVs. This has been used with good success at Carr Creek's Littcarr Campground entrance station.

    Customer Service Areas
    A wide variety of entrance stations are in use at Corps projects. Some of the more modern ones include a walk-in reception area for campers, such as the ones at J. Strom Thurmond Lake, GA, while most of the older models rely on an outside service window to serve customers.

    Space for Computer Equipment
    An important consideration for all Class A campground entrance stations today is enough room and shelf space for NRRS computer equipment. An example of a design in use at Barren River Lake, KY, is provided below. This particular unit was designed with adequate counter space in mind.

    Design from Hartwell Lake
    Drawings and specifications for Hartwell Lake entrance stations.

    Fish Cleaning Station

    Rathbun Lake, Iowa
    Rathbun Lake has designed recycling fish cleaning stations. They are a stainless steel table with nylon cutting boards and manual pitcher pumps installed on a standard 12 X 20 foot floating courtesy dock.

    Successful fishermen clean their catch on the cutting boards and wash the remains into a trough that drops the remains back into the lake through a large diameter PVC pipe. The fish remains are then "recycled" by catfish, turtles, etc.

    The tables were first tested in 1990 on Corps of Engineers docks under a special permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. After several years of testing and observation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources changed the Iowa Code to allow other lakes in Iowa to use this type of recycling fish cleaning station. Shortly after, the IDNR began placing this type of cleaning station on State Lakes and in State Parks also.

    The only working parts on the stations are the two pitcher pumps. Usually, replacing the pump leathers each spring is the only maintenance that is needed.

    The table, cutting boards and pitcher pumps were fabricated in 1990 for about $2,100. (the dock is extra).

    Fishermen like the design. Those preferring electric fillet knives have converted to rechargeable knives or 12 volt knives that operate from their boat batteries as there is no electricity run to these docks.

    For more information you may contact Bill Duey, Rathbun Lake Operations Manager.

    Picnic Site

    A universally accessible picnic was created at Saylorville Lake, Iowa. This site features a UA picnic table and a grill and is connected to a memorial bench that was donated by a local customer who frequents the lake often. The bench is accessible as well. Both of these facilities are connected with a concrete sidewalk which leads to a parking area.


    A universal playground for different age groups was installed at Saylorville Lake, Iowa. A concrete sidewalk leads to the playground from a parking area and connects to two group shelters. Installing universal playgrounds is the normal procedure at Saylorville and at least one is installed each fiscal year, replacing the old wooden playgrounds that were the norm many years ago.

    New guidance on selecting and installing playground surfaces is now available from the Access Board. Developed by National Center on Accessibility (NCA) at Indiana University with funding from the Board, the guide, "Seven Things Every Playground Owner Should Know About the Accessibility of Their Playground Surfaces," (also available in PDF) outlines key considerations and steps in selecting, installing, and maintaining playground surface to ensure accessibility and compliance with accessibility standards, including those issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA ) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).

    The ADA Standards, which apply to many types of facilities in the public and private sectors, and the ABA Standards, which cover federally funded facilities, include provisions for play areas and play surfaces. These requirements address running and cross slopes, changes in level, openings and apply industry standards for accessibility and impact attenuation issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

    The guide describes the most popular types of playground surfacing materials, such as poured-in-place rubber, rubber tiles, engineered wood fiber, and hybrid surface systems. It compares information on each of these material types, including installation methods, accessibility issues and considerations, maintenance, repair methods, and cost. This guidance is intended to help playground owners and operators make an informed choice in selecting surface materials and ensuring that they are properly installed and maintained for accessibility. It is based on findings from a Board-sponsored study by NCA completed last year that assessed the performance of different surfacing materials at 35 playgrounds over a 3-year period.

    Restroom/Shower Buildings

    Red Rock Lake, Iowa
    We have purchased a total of five (5) pre-engineered concrete buildings from two different manufacturers (CXT & Carr). Both CXT & Carr have GSA contracts. Of the five buildings that we purchased, one is a small flush restroom, two are vault toilets, and two are small shower buildings (a 2-plex & a 4-plex). We purchased four buildings from CXT and one building from Carr. Three of the five buildings are currently in service (all of these are from CXT). We have received multiple positive comments about these buildings. They are very vandal-resistant, functional, and are aesthetically pleasing. We are currently in the process of hooking up utilities to the other two buildings (they are setting on foundations) and hope to have them open before too long. Our maintenance crew hasn't had the time until now to finish hooking them up because they have been mowing some of our recreation areas this summer due to our reduced operational budget. The CXT Company has been a very professional company to work with. There is a myriad of options available to choose from when ordering a building from CXT. Some of these include exterior design, colors, interior fixtures, etc. Most of these buildings (excluding the vault toilets) are designed to set on a compacted gravel base. If you want, CXT can provide this type of building prep work. The vault toilet buildings are designed to set directly on top of the concrete vaults themselves. Our maintenance crew excavated the holes for the vaults to be placed in (for a fee CXT can also provide this service). We decided to have concrete foundations made for the 3 other buildings (the 2 shower buildings & 1 flush rest room) to be set on. We thought this may be a better option than setting them on a compacted gravel base because of the freeze/thaw zone of Iowa. All of the buildings that we have purchased meet ADA requirements. This is a nice feature since many of our areas have older non-compliant or partially compliant buildings. You can meet some of the needs of our disabled customers by placing a new unit in an area.

    The GSA purchase price of the buildings themselves is just one component of the overall costs involved with getting a building ready to open for public use. For instance, the price we paid for a small "ready built" CXT flush rest room for our marina cove recreation area was $36k. However, the total cost incurred in providing this building ready to use for the public was approximately $75k. The additional costs for this facility were for the addition of a new septic system, electrical system upgrades, concrete curbing, labor, etc. The CXT vault toilets (the buildings themselves) that we ordered, including shipping were approximately $29k, while the CXT 4-plex shower building was approximately $103k. The Carr 2-plex shower building's price was approximately $37k. There are some distinct differences between the "CXT" buildings and the buildings that are produced by "Carr".

    J. Strom Thurmond Lake
    A restroom with showers was built at Modoc Campground on J. Strom Thurmond Lake. The facility also has a family room located in the middle which is ideal for customers who have special needs or for the family with little kids. The building also has central air conditioning and heating.

    Barren River Lake, KY
    The Corps Recreation Facilities Standards note the benefits of using off-the-shelf commercial products when available. Prefabricated restroom buildings are an excellent example of this type of commercial product. Several Louisville District locations have installed Romtec SST units. Details of the site preparation required for installation at Barren River Lake, KY, are provided.

    Romtec Restrooms:

    Quarry Park on Norfork Lake
    As a part of modernization efforts at Quarry Park on Norfork Lake, the Mountain Home Project Office purchased a Romtec prefab shower and restroom building. The pre-fab consists of six uni-sex stalls each containing a sink, stool and shower. This design incorporates many of the new standards the Recreation Facility Task Force developed- off the shelf design, uni-sex design for privacy, families etc., Universally Accessible, facility features are low maintenance and the building blends well into the surrounding environment. Staff also took it one step further by installing a heat pump so that the building can stay open year around.

    Romtec Shower and Restrooms:

    Self-pay Stations

    Saylorville Lake Automated Pay Station

    Henderson, Jim E. (1996). "Day Use Fee Collection -- Innovative Methods and Success Stories." Natural Resources Technical Note REC-03, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS

    Automated Pay Station
    Eastman Lake and Hensley Lake, Madera County, California For more information contact technical expert Carrie Richardson (559-787-3024).


    Restroom Signs
    Many Corps managers have had problems maintaining signs on restrooms due to vandalism and weathering of the sign materials. If you are considering new construction, keep in mind an option used by Greers Ferry Lake. That project has learned that stone signs which are a part of the building itself are resistant to those problems.

    PRO: A sign incorporated into a restroom building is resistant to minor vandalism and weathering and does not have to be replaced due to theft. These signs at Greers Ferry Lake have been in place for years.

    CON: If vandals do chip or otherwise damage these signs, as has happend in some SWD locations, repairs are expensive.

    NOTE: When incorporating a sign into a building like this, make sure that the plans and specifications denote that the sign format must conform with Corps sign standards, and supply a copy of the Corps Sign Standards Manual to the contractor(s).


    Accessible Asphalt Paved Trail - Chief Joseph Dam, Bridgeport, WA


     Corps Castle Item is restricted to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CAC required. Document will open in a new window.

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