DYER | Republicans unleashed a torrent of criticism Wednesday on the handling of an investigation by the Lake County surveyor's office into a collapsed flood wall on Plum Creek in Dyer.
Surveyor George Van Til said Wednesday he thinks unstable soil caused a wall of metal wire baskets containing stone to slump off a steep-bank section of the drainage ditch during an April rainstorm.
He said the contractor who constructed the wall, Delta III of Hammond, has agreed to build a new, modified wall using less metal and stone to protect a church building and parking lot at the top of the creek's east bank. Delta III will complete the work for $33,000 less than the $160,143 the county had agreed to pay him before the collapse, he said.
Joe Hero and Eric Krieg, two Republican activists attending the drainage board meeting, complained the surveyor's explanation left too many questions unanswered about whether the accident was the result of poor planning, construction or oversight by the surveyor's office.
Hero was skeptical that Delta III would accept less money to complete the project.
Van Til said an engineering report indicated the soil, which Delta III obtained from Dyer, was unsuitable to be used as a foundation for the metal and stone wall and may not have been sufficiently compacted to withstand a heavy current of water that filled the creek during heavy rains in April, when the collapse took place.
He said the contractor "has taken responsibility" for potential deficiencies. Van Til said, unlike his critics, he isn't blaming the anyone — including Dyer for providing questionable soil.
Dyer Town Administrator Rick Eberly said Delta III apparently took soil that is available to any member of the public that has been excavated from other projects in a number of locations around town.
Van Til said the earlier retaining flood wall was more expensive because his office was trying to preserve more of the church's property, including a section of its parking lot, that will now be abandoned. That will make the creek bank less steep and less likely to be undermined by flood water.
The county also is preparing to shore up the opposite bank of Plum Creek. The work is expected to cost more than $179,000.