Efforts to clean up the logjams and other debris from the Yellow River will soon be underway. Starke County Surveyor Dennis Estok says the county commissioners this week signed the contract with the company that will handle the cleanup, Thomas Excavating and Welding, and the work can proceed as soon as the contractor is ready.
Estok says the project will be paid for by a grant through the Disaster Recovery Act that the county had applied for previously through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which provided the county with $190,000 to be used to remove the fallen trees and debris from the river. However, Estok noted that after engineering fees and other expenses, they’re left with only $160,000 – but he says that’s more than enough to pay the company, which presented a bid of only $118,000 for the cleanup.
Although, the project may end up costing a bit more. Estok says a number of extra trees have fallen as a result of the recent storms in July, and those extra trees were not included in the base bid.
“Because in the meantime, through all these storms, I’m sure there’s extra trees that have fallen in the river – well, I know there is, because I just went from the park and traveled downstream, and there’s a lot down in that section too,” said Estok.
With the estimated leftover $42,000, Estok is confident they’ll be able to cover the additional expense.
The project will remove debris in the Yellow River from U.S. 35 to the Starke–Marshall county line, and it’s not going to be easy. Estok says they expect to run into issues regarding access to the river, which could prove problematic.
“There’s not a lot of good access points, so we have to go through farm fields and all that. Some of it will have to wait until the crops come out, some farmers have already said, ‘Yeah, you can use my farm field to get to the river, but I don’t want my crops damaged.’ But we can get a lot of them without doing that,” Estok said.
Either way, Estok estimates the project to take at least a month.
“It’s probably going to take a while. It’s about 113 logjams that they have to take out and probably counting, because like I said, due to storms we have lost some more trees that have fallen into the river, but there’s extra money for that,” Estok said.
The debris removal will likely begin at the end of August or early September.