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River project work is getting close

A large accumulation of sand in a segment of the Kankakee River renders the boat ramp almost useless at Potawatomi Park in Aroma Park.

Posted on April 24, 2024

When several government agencies are involved in a public project, it can take time for all the pieces to come together for the work to become a reality.

At Thursday’s Kankakee County Board’s Highways and Waterways committee meeting, Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit for dredging the Kankakee River at the boat launch in Potawatomi Park at South Division and West Front streets in Aroma Park.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is one of three needed, along with those from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler said those two permits should be issued shortly, and then the long-anticipated project can commence.

“We’ve got the draft bid document together,” he said. “We can begin advertising for release bids once we have our last permits received, so we’re standing right on the edge. Get ready to jump, if you will. And don’t expect any hold up or anything like that.”

However, the county doesn’t want to disrupt Aroma Park’s annual Two Rivers Festival, which will be held on Aug. 17. The river project from start to finish will take approximately one month to complete, so it could be either finished before the festival or start after that August weekend.

The parking lot at Potawatomi Park will be used for the dewatering process and staging for the river project, and it’s also used for parking for the festival.

“We’re going to work around what Aroma Park is doing what their festival, but I could not be more happy with where we’re at,” Wheeler said. “I guess nobody is happy with the timelines to get to where you’re at, but it’s just a long process as they’re seeing in Kankakee [Riverwalk] with the mussels and things like that.”

The project, which Wheeler said is more of sediment management than dredging, was announced in September 2022. The entire project is being paid for by $1 million secured from the state by State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex.

The sediment management is being overseen by Burke Engineering, of Indianapolis, Ind., and Charlie Dewees, project engineer, said in late November that an approximate 30-foot wide corridor will be created by the dredging to allow two boats to pass by in the area at the same time.

“We would create at least a three-foot depth of normal pool, which was our target goal,” Dewees said.


There’s going to be 8,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of sand/sediment removed from the Kankakee River. Once it’s dewatered on site it will be hauled away and delivered to the Illinois State Rifle Association Range in Bonfield has agreed to accept the sand.

“They want to build berms with it,” Wheeler said. “One man’s hazard is another man’s berm.”


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