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Partial closure at Manistee Riverwalk due to stability issues from dredging

The Buxton II and tug Matt Allen, owned by the King Company, work on dredging the Manistee River Channel on July 5, 2024.

Posted on July 10, 2024

MANISTEE — The Manistee Riverwalk has been closed between Tamarack Street and Cherry Street due to safety concerns stemming from destabilization caused by dredging in the Manistee River Channel.

The dredging has impacted parts of the Riverwalk’s structural stability, leading city officials to shut down the affected area for public safety.

City manager Bill Gambill explained that the dredging, initially meant to clear shallow sections of the federally-managed shipping channel, moved eastward, exacerbating some unstable banks.

“…It’s near the red fishing shack, and it looks like it’s unstable at this point. … You can feel the deck bouncing a little bit, so we’re gonna have to close that off and evaluate,” Gambill said during a July 2 Manistee City Council meeting.

Further assessments and potential interventions, such as soundings and consultations with Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy are being considered to determine the next steps for stabilizing the Riverwalk, Gambill said.

The original plan to dredge the harbor later in the summer was expedited following an incident on April 23, when a commercial vessel was unable to enter the harbor due to sediment buildup. Dredging began in late June.

Through coordination between the Army Corps staff and the contractor, King Company of Holland, equipment began arriving in Manistee in late June, according to a press release from the Army Corps.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the Manistee River Channel and harbor under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1960, which allows it to dredge channels and make improvements to support federal and commercial traffic.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the mouth of the river should be maintained at a depth of 25 feet and a width of 570 feet.

It was announced June 2, that King Company had been contracted to remove approximately 33,000 cubic yards of sediment from the harbor. The funding for the $581,000 project will come from the fiscal year 2022 president’s budget.

At the July 2 meeting, Manistee Police Department Chief Josh Glass said that ensuring pedestrian safety was a top priority, especially given the heavy traffic expected during Manistee National Forest Festival. Glass noted that the city is taking precautionary measures, including notifying residents and posting clear signage.

The tug Matt Allen and Buxton II, a cutter suction dredger, began work on the Manistee River near “the old sand dock” on July 1, according to Chris Franckowiak, who runs the Manistee, MI Vessel Traffic Facebook page.

“Boaters are to pass the dredge on the side marked with two black diamonds (or green lights at night). The side of the dredge marked with two black spheres (red lights at night) is the obstructed side,” Franckowiak stated on a Facebook post.

Mayor Jermaine Sullivan questioned the logic behind dredging the channel during the city’s Fourth of July celebration.

“They had to do it this week?” Sullivan asked Gambill at the July 2 meeting. “It had to start this week?”

Gambill responded: “Not our preference. Not our call.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District is responsible for maintaining the federal channel along the Manistee River, which spans about 2 miles. It is one of a network of 81 harbors and channels throughout the Great Lakes region overseen by the Detroit District.

The project is expected to be completed by July 31, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers news release. King Company had previously conducted dredging at Manistee River Channel in 2022 under a similar contract.


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