Officials report progress on Little Calumet levee project

2012-11-14T21:30:00Z 2012-11-15T18:56:17Z Officials report progress on Little Calumet levee projectLU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 14, 2012 9:30 pm  • 

MUNSTER | The Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission couldn't pay bills or take any official action Wednesday because of a lack of quorum.

The commission was expanded from five to nine members earlier this year when the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation funding project operation and maintenance.

However, four of those local appointees — two nominated by the Lake County commissioners and one each from the cities of Hammond and Gary — haven’t yet been vetted by Gov. Mitch Daniel’s office, commission Chairman William Baker said.

“I expect that to be delayed through the holidays and the transition with the new governor. My bet is it’s not going to happen until after Jan. 1,” commission Chairman William Baker said.

Thomas Gozdecki was absent because of a death in the family, officials said.

Reports presented by commissioners, Executive Director Dan Repay and Natalie Mills, the U.S. Army of Engineer project manager, painted a picture of more cooperation and progress on the $250 million flood control project.

Crews are working on the rehabilitation of the levee from Hohman Avenue to Forest Avenue, Repay said. The Hohman Avenue pump station will be on bypass Thursday and Friday. This levee rehab is expected to be finished in December.

Plans are being made to build a higher Columbia Avenue bridge over the Little Calumet River as a jointly funded project between the commission, Hammond, Munster and Lake County, Repay said. This bridge is the lowest point going west of Hart Ditch. Raising the bridge level will provide access to The Community Hospital in a flood emergency and allow crews to get into the river to remove any blockages.

Long-deferred maintenance of flood protection at Burr Street and Marshalltown Drive in Gary is now completed, and the Army Corps will inspect those areas to recertify them by Dec. 1, Repay said.

The commission is evaluating the watershed study that was part of the funding legislation. Town hall-style meetings will be held in two locations in the watershed area in the next few months.

Ron McAhron, of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said he is meeting with the Army Corps and officials from other states on how to deal with the advance of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. He said the Little Calumet River is part of the waterway system that needs to be studied to keep the carp out. A report on structural options is expected at the end of 2013, and the solution will “take an awful lot of money,” McAhron said.

Seeding of areas adjacent to the levee from the Northcote Bridge west to Hohman Avenue have been completed, and the Army Corps is closing out the two contracts, Mills said.

Reconstruction of the failed railroad floodgate closure near Kennedy Avenue was started Nov. 12 and is expected to be completed by Nov. 21, Mills said. Testing of the gate will be coordinated with the railroad.

The commission's next meeting is set for Dec. 12.

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