MUNSTER | Recent inspections indicate progress on a flood protection project along the Little Calumet River is making progress, according to reports heard during Wednesday’s meeting of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials spent eight days last month with commission Executive Director Dan Repay inspecting the Little Calumet River levee from the Indiana/Illinois state line to I-65.
Repay said the inspections were conducted through Munster, Highland, the Cady Marsh Ditch in Griffith and three areas of Gary — Burr Street, Marshalltown and the Gary South Levee.
“The inspection went pretty well,” he said.
The corps will issue a draft of the report by the end the month. That report will be shared with municipal engineers and public works directors for their comments, Repay told the board.
A final report on the inspection should be issued by the corps next month.
The construction isn’t finished yet on the Gary South levee area that runs from Chase Street on the west to Martin Luther King Drive on the east, Repay said. The area was decertified by the corps in 2006 because it wasn’t maintained to provide adequate flood protection. An inspection report in 2009 was used as the basis for work by Grimmer Construction on that portion of the levee, Repay said.
That Gary South area will be inspected next year to receive its certification of flood protection.
The flood protection system on State Line Avenue also is progressing, although some residents expressed concern the system of interlocking blocks would not be ready to protect them this year.
“We are in a very tight window with the construction,” Repay said. “We’re not going to stop.”
Another project, a high velocity channel that will take water east from where Hart Ditch flows into the Little Calumet River, will direct water to spots where there is more stormwater storage.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will require permits for the work, Repay said.
DNR and IDEM officials said they want an island built up of sediment that’s in the middle of the Little Calumet River near Kennedy Avenue moved to the south bank and native species planted to increase wetland capacity.
Repay said relocating the island could be part of wetland mitigation mandated as part of the legislation that created a permanent funding source for operating and maintaining the $275 million flood protection system.
In other business, the commission approved spending up to $60,000 to replant trees outside the levee system to replace those being cut down inside the levee. Those 4-inch diameter trees will be planted on public land such as parks, Repay said.
The tree removal, including that along Southmoor Avenue, is mandated because the trees could fall into the river and cause blockages, said William Baker, commission chairman.