Don Malcolm of Malcolm Marine operates an excavator to clear away broken concrete from the riverbank near Lincoln Street to rehabilitate the shoreline in Port Huron. The steel break wall is being placed to protect the riverbank with stone covering the steel. / Mark R. Rummel/Times Herald
Federally funded shoreline restoration projects are moving forward in the Blue Water Area.
About $3.68 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was awarded to local municipalities and agencies to improve fish spawning habitats and fix shoreline engineering problems.
In Port Huron, excavation has started on a 320-foot stretch of St. Clair River shoreline at the end of Lincoln Street just south of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock’s dock. The project — engineered by Tetra Tech of Port Huron — is being funded by a $1.3 million GLRI grant.
Crews from Malcolm Marine of St. Clair used backhoes Tuesday afternoon to remove dirt and pieces of scrap cement from the existing riverbank to make room for a new seawall.
A wall of steel I-beams will be driven into the ground and backfilled with stones for stabilization, assistant city engineer Dave Smith said. At the end of its construction in November, the new seawall will be buried underneath a slope of rocks and planted grasses. Though project plans do not call for a path leading to the river’s edge on the new river bank, Smith said the city would not be placing fences around the area to keep people away.
Next summer, work will begin on creating a better area for fish to spawn in the river, Smith said.
Several rock beds about 20 feet by 40 feet will be placed about 100 to 300 feet offshore in the St. Clair River, said Amanda Huddas, civil engineer for Port Huron. Each bed will have a variety of different sizes of rocks for fish to hide their eggs during spawning season, Smith said.
With a residence on Michigan Street, Jack Kelley of Port Huron lives right next to the construction project. His house was shaking when crews began driving the steel I-beams into the ground, Kelley said.
“It was like a small earthquake,” he said. “Other than that, they’ve been pretty careful.”
The area of shoreline the city is currently restoring was overgrown with brush, full of scrap concrete and mostly used as a parking lot, Kelley said. As a fisherman, Kelley knows the smooth clay floor of the St. Clair River isn’t a good habitat for fish trying to lay eggs.
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