A plan to repair an Ottawa levee washout has set sail.
And motorists traveling southbound on the Main Street bridge can expect reduced lanes during the day through the month-long project, set to begin Tuesday.
When the log-jammed Marais des Cygnes River receded after a high water episode in 2016, a divot resembling a large golf course sandtrap appeared on the south-side levee, near Ottawa’s Main Street bridge.
Now, two years later, repair work on the levee washout is just days away, Ottawa city commissioners learned at their meeting Wednesday night at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency tasked with repairing the levee, has selected a contractor for the project. The levee was never in danger of breaching so the project was not time sensitive, according to city and Corps officials in 2016.
The City of Ottawa, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Julius Kaaz Construction Co. had a meeting March 29 in preparation of the repair work, which primarily consists of digging out the silt and replacing the washout with “rock and rip rap,” according to a news release form the Public Works Department.
The project will affect motorists using the Main Street bridge during the day in order to provide access for the repair work, located between the Main Street bridge and the southwest flood wall of the levee, the release said. “Motorists can expect reduced lanes for southbound traffic and increased truck traffic in the area during the day throughout construction.”
The pedestrian bridge will remain open during the project, but pedestrians using the Main Street bridge will want to use the east side (northbound traffic side) of the bridge during the day while repair work is conducted, public works said.
“For the last two years I’ve been working with the Corps to fix it,” Michael Haeffele, Ottawa’s director of public works, told city commissioners Wednesday night. “They finally got funding to do a study. Then they got funding to do the design and engineering ... We’re finally at a point that they’ve selected a contractor to come in and make those repairs.
“Their mobilization is planned for April 10 and construction to start soon after,” he said. “I just got that hard start date of April 10 this afternoon.”
The repairs should be completed within a month, Haeffele said. Of course, that timetable is predicated on favorable weather conditions during a potentially rainy period, he told commissioners.
“If they have good weather, it should really only take a couple of weeks but ... we know what April brings. I anticipate the start to [finish] probably around 30 days. As it rains and water comes in, if the water comes up and gets over the ledge they’re going to use to get to that washout area, they’re going to have to wait for it to dry out.”
“That washout ground over the last couple of years, has it gotten larger?” Tom Weigand, city commissioner, asked Wednesday.
During the last year, city workers have kept a close eye on the washout, Haeffele said.
“We even went out there and painted it because we thought it was growing, so we made a mark around the edge of it to prove to the Corps, because they said, ‘We don’t think it is.’ It did increase in size a little bit but not near as much as we thought it was,” he said.