NEW BUFFALO — With signs of the latest high-water event still evident in the form of large puddles on North Whittaker Street near New Buffalo’s public beach, a series of large concrete blocks were installed Saturday, March 28, in an effort to reduce future flooding.
The crew of Cameron Seifert, Scott Burkholder and Kyle Seifert from Burkholder Excavating installed 59 of the 4,000-pound rectangles to form a seawall-like barrier from the base of the Whittaker Street Bridge to the edge of the pubic beach parking lot where the road takes a sharp right and becomes Marquette Drive.
“We’re bringing them down from Ozinga (a concrete facility located in New Buffalo on South Whittaker Street) and just placing tem here to try and keep the water back,” Burkholder said.
He said the goal (which was achieved) was to get all of the blocks in place before high winds forecast for Sunday, March 29, kicked in, possibly bringing the river water back up.
“Hopefully it will be better,” said New Buffalo City Manager David Richards while watching the project move along Saturday afternoon. “We’re hoping that at last temporarily we can stop it from flooding. We’re going to work on a permanent seawall.”
The New Buffalo City Council on Feb. 28 approved having the blocks put in along the swollen Galien River from the Whittaker Street Bridge to New Buffalo’s public beach to protect the roadway there from flooding.
The accepted $5,360 bid from Ozinga Concrete’s New Buffalo operation and Sawyer-based Burkholder Excavating involves 59 concrete blocks weighing 4,000 pounds (with built-in hooks) measuring 2-feet by 2-feet by 6 feet.
Prior to the Feb. 28 special council meeting, the City of New Buffalo had requested that Abonmarche consultants solicit quotes for various options to protect the Whittaker Street roadway and associated utilities north of the bridge from high water levels causing erosion to the land between the river and the roadway.
Other bids submitted to protect the shoreline area past the bridge included: Tamis Barriers (plastic barriers 6 feet long and 42 inches high filled with water at a cost of $15,531); American Eagle Precast (concrete barriers 10 to 12 feet long and 32 inches high at a cost of $11,550 plus freight costs estimated at $1,800 to $2,600); Mack Industries (concrete barriers 10 feet long and 32 inches long at a cost of $11,200 plus freight costs estimated at $1,800 to $2,600).
The council discussed having a protective earthen berm built along the river from the bridge to the beach during its January regular meeting, but Mayor Lou O’Donnell IV said on Feb. 28 that longer-range design plans being formulated for the waterfront area include a seawall from the bridge to the breakwater, and a more permanent (and more expensive) berm would likely complicate getting that done as quickly as possible.
He added that another layer of blocks could be added if river waters exceed the single-layer height.
“At $40 apiece for these 4,000-pound blocks you just can’t beat it,” O’Donnell concluded.
The city website stated that restoration work to make the temporary seawall look as attractive as possible will be done soon.