Proposed project would use ‘natural’ approach to preventing riverbank erosion

October 25th, 2016

The work involves using buried boulders and special shrubs to protect the riverbank.

By Kevin Kilbane | News-Sentinel

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department hopes to take a more natural approach to preventing bank erosion on the St. Marys River along Headwaters Park and the Old Fort.

Bids are due by 11 a.m. Thursday from contractors interested doing the work, so the parks department will have to wait until then to see what bidders propose to charge for the work, said Steve McDaniel, parks department deputy director.

The parks department wants to have erosion-prevention work done on about 160 feet of shoreline at Headwaters Park, which is located downtown at Clinton and Superior Streets, and across the river on about 300 feet of shoreline at Historic Fort Wayne, 1201 Spy Run Ave., McDaniel said. The St. Marys has carved 5 to 7 feet off of its riverbanks in that area in the past 15 years, he said.

The proposed project would involve excavating along the river's edge and installing large boulders that, most of the time, would be below the water surface, McDaniel said. The boulders will deflect river currents to prevent them from eating away any riverbank soil.

The proposed project also calls for installing willows and other special types of shrubs on the riverbank to hold soil in place and to deflect the river current during times of high water or flooding, McDaniel said.

Use of the boulders below the water line and the specialty shrubs has been used in several other areas in the northern Midwest and has been effective, he said.

"There is a good chance we will use this method at other places (along local rivers), but, at this time, we don't have any identified," McDaniel added.

The approach represents an alternative to covering riverbanks with rip rap — smaller chunks of stone also designed to prevent erosion.

McDaniel hopes work on the proposed project can begin in early December and be completed by April or May. The parks department is working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Army Corps of Engineers for the permits needed to do the work.

Categories Quality of Life