MAILED: March 28, 2001
A section of the Chippewa River bank on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus will undergo redevelopment this summer, said Andrew Soll, vice chancellor of business and student services, during a University Senate meeting March 27.
The river is cutting away at the rivers south bank, threatening Garfield Avenue and the utilities infrastructure next to it, Soll said, adding that floods, such as the 100-year flood in 1993, cause large cracks in the riverbank. Continued erosion could lead to bank failure and significant damage to the road and utilities.
The project, which received $950,000 from the Division of Facilities Development and the State Building Commission, will involve the riverbank along Garfield Avenue, from east of the footbridge to near the base of the hill. The stabilization will include decreasing the bank slope, ripraping the slope to protect it from erosion and landscaping the upper portion of the bank.
To adequately reinforce the bank, most of the trees, brush and related root systems will be removed, Soll said, noting that some larger trees will be preserved. If this material is not removed, decomposition of the organic material over time would cause soft spots or voids in the bank that could lead to collapse and renewed erosion, he said.
Portions of the riprap material will be covered with topsoil and seeded with a grass mixture that includes some native grasses. Approximately 135 trees and 300 shrubs will be planted along the upper part of the bank.
The project also will include a new sidewalk adjacent to Garfield Avenue along the river and a small observation deck. Although aesthetics are not the driving factor behind this project, the bank stabilization will open up the view of the river for pedestrians and motorists and make the river a visual feature of the campus, Soll said. The new sidewalk also will improve pedestrian safety, he said.
Most of the work on the project is expected to be completed from the river, Soll said, so there should be limited disruption to traffic on Garfield Avenue.
Aquatic life also should not be negatively affected by the project, said Chris Goodwin, an engineer with Ayres Associates, who has worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources on the project. In fact, the removal of some existing concrete and rubble from the shoreline and the addition of riprap will provide an improved habitat for the fish, he said.
The bank stabilization project is expected to begin the Monday after commencement (May 21) and will be completed before school resumes in the fall.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: March 28, 2001