The Saratoga Sun -

River Restoration moving forward

 

Sarah Hutchins

This photograph, taken from Bridge Avenue , shows the two channels around the island near the First Street Bridge. This island has caused the current to change direction from its previous course. The current has causes numerous boating accidents in the past three years.

During the River Restoration meeting held on March 16, the committee narrowed its focus on two priority projects: lowering the flood stage and remediating the increased boater bridge crashes. However, they need public support to get it done.

The River Restoration meeting agenda was to discuss lowering the bedrock and short-term fixes for the town. The monthly meeting had 26 people in attendance.

Jeff Streeter, project manager for Platte Valley Trout Unlimited, discussed the explicit need for further study on the bedrock elevation. This determines if lowering bedrock is plausible under sections of the North Platte that commonly floods in Saratoga. Streeter found the most plausible method of study would be ground-penetrating radar (GPR). The cost would range from $29,000-$43,000.

In addition, the increased boater hang-ups at the First Street Bridge was identified as a priority. The river current runs parallel to the bridge due to sand bar accumulation, channelizing the river. The proposed short-term fix was to remove a portion of sediment around the bridge to correct the current.

Mike "Hack" Patterson,owner of Hack's tackle, was worried about altering the river, but recognized that boater turnovers are a problem. Patterson referred to 2010, when he originally noticed a spike in boater crashes at the bridge. "We really felt in 2010 that something needed to be addressed with number of boats that hit the bridge," said Patterson.

Due to a lack of funding, the town will not be "good to go" on the GPR, or the partial sandbar removal this year. There may be grant funding available, according to Streeter. "If we want to go out additional years then I can find that funding, but I cannot find it within the parameters of funding cycles."

It was proposed that voluntary citizen donations could account for some of the cost, and it would help in terms of finding additional grant funding. Streeter said, "If I can demonstrate buy-in from residents, this is huge. We can always have that because it shows cohesion within the community, which I think is a really good thing"

The next meeting has been set for 1 p.m., March 26 at Saratoga Town Hall. There will be continued discussion on the GPR, sand bar removal, and voluntary citizen donations. The public is encouraged to attend.

 

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