MOROCCO — A major logjam at the State Line Bridge between Lake and Newton counties has turned into an immediate priority for the newly put together Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission.
Scott D. Pelath, Executive Director of the Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission, gave an update of the situation to the Newton County Commissioners at their board meeting Sept. 16.
“The State Line Bridge between Lake and Newton Counties is no longer functional and strongly merits eventual removal,” said Pelath. “The abandoned bridge frequently accumulates dislodged trees and other floating debris, and this chokepoint restricts the natural downstream flow of water for at least eight Indiana counties. However, the current blockage is especially severe. The barrier currently extends across half of the Kankakee River channel, and fresh vegetation even has started to take hold within it.”
Currently, Lake and Newton counties are evaluating contractors to complete the emergency work, and the Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Commission intends to sanction the necessary appropriation of funds at its September 26 meeting.
“Emergency funds are available, I fully expect prompt approval and action,” Pelath told the Newton County Enterprise. “In recent days, officials from Lake and Newton counties and myself have observed the blockage’s alarming growth during a direct inspection. The logjam is a physical hazard demanding an expedited solution.”
Pelath added that competing estimates from area contractors are expected by next week and could not predict a financial figure, but did say that smaller logjams can frequently be removed for less than $10,000.
“However, given the size and scope of this particular blockage, one would rationally expect the cost to extend somewhat further into the five-digit range,” said Pelath.
The Kankakee River Basin and Yellow River Basin Development Basin Commission has emergency funds available for individual counties and for the entire channel.
“While such funds are limited and carefully kept in reserve for unforeseen events, this is a priority item,” said Pelath. “I expect the commission will be able to cover any reasonable payments that are consistent with comparable past expenditures.”