Posted April 2, 2020
MANISTEE, MI – A cement block retaining wall tumbled into the Manistee channel over the weekend - just days before deconstruction was to begin - damaging part of the Manistee Riverwalk.
Significant erosion occurred below the wall during a storm about two weeks ago, which prompted the city to make plans to remove parts of it, said Jeff Mikula, Manistee Department of Public Works director. Deconstruction - to avoid the wall tumbling into the water - was expected to begin Monday, March 30, but the wall collapsed on Saturday.
The wall, near the intersection of First and Cherry streets in Manistee, was built into a hill to secure a parking area overlooking the channel and harbor that flow out into Lake Michigan.
As of March 27, Lake Michigan’s water level was up 14 inches compared to the same date a year ago. It’s expected to rise another 4 inches in the next month. The water level increases, in turn, are threatening to flood Michigan’s 3,288 miles of shoreline.
Coastal communities like Manistee are keeping track of what needs to be repaired – along with estimates of what those repairs will cost. The Michigan Municipal League has compiled a statewide list that shows $63 million in fixes needed across the state as of early March.
It’s not clear yet how much it will cost to repair the wall and hill in Manistee.
There are no plans yet to clean up the large cement blocks, Mikula said. This area of the channel has been plagued by high waves and wind causing erosion, and damage to the wooden river walk.
“The collapsed blocks will remain in place and may actually assist in reducing erosion until permanent repairs can be made,” Mikula said.
Most of the river walk directly below the wall was removed last year after damage cause by waves, but the blocks did damage a railing.
The river walk was first damage in 2018. The walkway was repaired with insurance money that year, but was damaged again in late 2019, prompting the 500-foot section below the wall to be removed. The remainder of the river walk, about 2 miles, remains open.
Engineering work is in progress to armor the shoreline in that area with stone, he said. Plans also include elevating and reconstructing the 500-foot section of the river walk and repairing the retaining wall. The city plans to apply for a state Shoreline Grant and issue a capital improvement bond to pay for the work. The goal is to begin construction in the fall.