MUNSTER | The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the Columbia Avenue bridge Wednesday morning to fill a gap in the unfinished floodwall that is still under construction along the Little Calumet River, Munster town officials stressed on Thursday.
"Munster was only asked to provide sandbags and sand by the Army Corps, Ceres (Environmental Services) and Walsh & Kelly. We did not close the bridge," said James Mandon, Munster town engineer.
The Little Calumet River did not overflow its banks despite the rise in water levels during and after the heavy rainstorms Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, said Dave Pelc, of the Munster emergency management team.
No homes, businesses or other property were in danger at either the Columbia Avenue or Northcote bridges, Pelc said.
Monitors placed along the Little Calumet River and Hart Ditch indicated a rise in water levels, but those levels did not reach the bottom of either bridge deck and continue to go down, Pelc said.
Mandon explained that the unfinished floodwall being constructed by contractors at the Columbia Avenue bridge along the Little Calumet River still has gaps in it. Those gaps needed to be filled Wednesday.
When the sand and sandbags were delivered by Munster town employees, the U.S. Army Corps and the contractors used a backhoe to position the material, said Mandon.
That backhoe was partially on Columbia Avenue, presenting a traffic hazard.
That was one reason the U.S. Army Corps and its contractors closed the bridge and roadway leading to it. That closure also allowed contractor crews to safely finish shoring up the gaps.
Mandon said town officials have fielded numerous calls from Munster residents upset over inaccurate reports of flooding.
"We want to assure everyone that there was no flooding at any time, and that the town did not close the bridge," he said.