Patoka River project beginning after years of delay


JASPER — After years of being delayed, Patoka River shelf construction underneath the dam near the Jasper City Mill is beginning.

City Engineer Chad Hurm told the Board of Public Works and Safety Tuesday that Knies Construction is currently moving equipment to the location to get started. The project, which was originally slated to begin in 2018, has been continually delayed by high water levels at Patoka Lake. Construction work will include removing a sediment pile and installing a toe wood shelf.

“What that’ll do is, during normal flow condition, that water will run through at a faster rate, which will theoretically hopefully eliminate the deposition of silt in the river,” Hurm said. “And it’ll keep it going downstream, and when the river comes out of the banks and floods low areas, it’ll deposit it where it would normally.”

The shelf will be made of tree stumps spanning the width of the dam. The logs will be covered with smaller-diameter logs, brush, dirt and sod collected from the surrounding area. The shelf will reinforce the riverbank, which has been eroding, and prevent sediment buildup. Without the shelf, the sediment pile needs to be removed periodically.

The large island of sediment will be removed, Hurm said, and the smaller ones will ideally be washed away with the increased velocity of the water after the project is complete.

The project, which is estimated to cost about $150,000, is set to take three to four weeks, Hurm said. Knies Construction has been collecting tree stumps since last year to use for the project.

After construction is complete, the bank will be filled with native plants that can survive being flooded regularly, Hurm said.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has been using toe wood shelves in stabilization projects for several years, according to its website.

Since construction is only under the dam, the project will not interrupt any traffic or recreation in the area.

The board also:

• Approved a Smithville community celebration at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Riverwalk gazebo and shelter houses. The event will celebrate the end of Smithville’s fiber project, which has been in the works for seven years.

• Approved a Kids’ Day event at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 on the Downtown Square. Kids’ Day is an event for children that allows them to set up booths to sell snacks, crafts and games.

• Approved a Heartland Half Marathon, 5K, team challenge and kids’ fun run at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 4 starting at 331 Mill St. and finishing at the River Centre.

• Gave the street department permission to seek bids for a new sign truck.

• Gave the street department permission to start the hiring process to replace a vacancy in the department.

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