Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Soon, two projects will begin along our stretch of the river.
One on our side. One on the other.
On our side the project will be funded and supervised by the MWRD, the public entity in charge of treating our wastewater and managing the North Branch and North Channel of the Chicago River. The goal of this project is to stabilize the eastern bank, especially the northern end, from Montrose to Berteau street. They will do this by inserting seawalls, corrugated sections of heavy iron deep into the bank some feet off shore, and pinning them into deep strata of clay with long iron holdfasts.
The top of the seawalls, when installed, will rest at normal water level, leaving hem inconspicuous in their important task. From the edge of the seawall limestone fill will be added to armor the bank against scouring from flood events. This newly created contour will also be planted with appropriate native species of forbs, grasses, shrubs and trees to provide bank stability, habitat for wild things, and beauty (for us).
All work will be done from the river side, using barges, so as not to badly impact existing plantings. Temporary construction fencing will seal off the work area from November 17th until springtime. Pathways will still be open, but access to the river's edge will not be permitted. Riverbank Neighbors understands this safety precaution and appreciates the District's plan to perform the work during the wintertime, when the site is less visited by families and friends.
In the end, the project will hopefully secure the eroding bank and provide large new areas for planting, new paths and river access, more beauty and happiness for neighbors and visitors.
On the other side, the project is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Park District. The goal here is to re-contour the bank by excavating the bank back towards the park, an option not available on our side. Sadly this will mean removal of many riverbank trees and, at least temporarily, a dramatic change in the look of the green wall of trees and vines that we usually see from our side. Two 250 foot sections of bank will be left without re-grading, providing some complexity and points of comparison as the project unfolds.
The problem with the west bank is that because of the steepness of the man-made bank, and the dense shade caused by the volunteer trees, the bank is largely bare soils, subject to erosion and undermining of the riverbank trees.
The project will involve lots of large machines, noise, and change. If all goes well the end result will be a more stable bank contour covered with a thick community of native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees. That is our hope and we will be monitoring the project closely to work for the best most ecologically sustainable and beautiful result.
If you have questions, or would like to be involved in the work of Riverbank neighbors,
Please call 773-463-8968.