Thank you for reading our abbreviated version of the
In our 110th year!
VOL. 110 No. 4
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
WORK HAS BEGUN . . . on the Cass River Fish Passage Project below the dam. CTI, in conjunction with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Dr. Sandy Verry, are creating rock ramp beginning at the existing dam and building downstream approximately 300 feet. Work began Monday as large trucks began hauling stone and rock into the water and an excavator moved the material into strategic locations. (News photo)
Cass River is rocking as dam project begins
The 165-year-old landmark will become a fish passage
A 165-year-old community landmark is getting a major makeover after nearly a dozen years in the planning.
Work began Monday morning on the Frankenmuth Fish Passage Project at the Cass River Dam. For nearly two months, stone, rock and boulders were trucked in from Alpena and Bayport and staged behind the Frankenmuth Waste Water Treatment Plant, ready for strategic placing below the dam.
If all goes well, the approximate $3.5 million project will be completed by mid-September.
Last week, the project contractor CTI of Wixom completed the access road on the west bank of the Cass River. Orange fencing surrounds the site, cordoned off under U.S. Government regulations.
“There is a large blue tube which is moving treated water from the waste water treatment plant to the river,” Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority Director Sheila Stamiris said. Stamiris is the city point person for the project. “Many people may not know this tube is here and has always been here. When the project is done, this tube will be shortened and/or encased in stone to protect it from ice or logs. This is normal to have here . . . it is drinkable water.”
Gunzenhausen Street saw noticeably more foot and vehicle traffic as persons witnessed the large excavator and very large payload truck bring stone into the water. Thanks to the low water level, the machinery can move quite easily, causing only minor wakes.
“Only certain equipment will be allowed in the river and it will have vegetable-based hydraulic oils. At the end of the day, all equipment will be removed from the river for refueling and inspections. Booms and other precautions will be maintained on site at all times,” Stamiris pointed out.
Surveyors first entered the river to drive in stakes for the placement of stone in the scour hole near the dam. The water level below the dam is about 12 inches, but there are some deeper areas that could be tough on the equipment.
Dr. Sandy Verry, the lead designer for the project and consultant to the city, arrived here on Sunday. He is overseeing the placement of stone and will advise the U.S. Corps of Engineers management team.
The project, which will measure over 300 feet from the top of the dam to downstream, has staggering statistics.
“Numbers that were quoted include about 25 tons of stones from small to large, 49 million pounds . . . 2,200 large stones to be placed one by one with excavators during construction,” Stamiris stated. “Wow. You could say Frankenmuth Rocks!”
While residents and guests will want to check out the action, Stamiris cautions persons to keep off the river banks.
“Safety is a No. 1 concern for the construction company and they are diligent about keeping a safe working environment for their employees, their equipment and the work area. CTI reminds people that the river is off limits within the area of the dam and down river . . . there is good viewing reserved on the north bank, near Gunzenhausen Street and the walkway there,” Stamiris said.
When completed, the fish passage will reconnect the fish of Saginaw Bay to more than 73 miles of historically significant spawning areas. The project also maximizes opportunities to benefit Frankenmuth’s local economy – keeping the river profile as it is today and adding opportunities for recreation that sustain the tourism industry and employment center through eco-tourism.
Constructed in 1850, the Cass River Dam has been a community workhorse and land mark for over 160 years. A failure at the dam would result in the loss of water depth upstream, eliminating commercial boating, changing the river profile for properties along the river and releasing silts and soils from behind the dam.
Over time, the original wooden dam was covered with concrete, more concrete and more concrete. In 2005, about $350,000 was required as a minimum investment to repair half of the dam. Instead, the city chose to make its investment go farther, leveraging other funds to construct a permanent solution while providing for an ecological improvement and new recreational opportunities.
The city staff has added a webpage to the City of Frankenmuth’s website, www.frankenmuthcity.com. Follow the links to damproject.
“The site features information about the project, updates as needed, frequently asked questions and a webcam provided by Air Advantage,” Stamiris said.
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