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City staff is working with the DNR to fix some obstructions under the new bridge that are causing issues for boaters. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Obstructions under new bridge reviewed

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By Anna Erickson

Park Rapids city staff is working with Department of Natural Resources staff to possibly remedy rock obstructions under the new bridge.

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City administrator John McKinney updated the council Monday night.

At the last council meeting, some citizens questioned the status of the completed work done on the east shoreline and obstructions in the Fish Hook River waterway directly below the new bridge. The property owners were advised that the project was done by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and that the city had little to do with the design or work completed on the project.

McKinney offered to contact the DNR in an effort to address the problems. He contact David Schotzko, area supervisor for the DNR Parks and Trails office in Bemidji, and addressed the issues.

“It soon became apparent that we were not certain of the actual conditions on the site and felt that an on-site inspection would be to our benefit,” McKinney said. “The DNR arranged for a Park Rapids contractor to meet with us at the site.”

Sheriff Cory Aukes and Chief Deputy Scott Parks also met at the site due to their involvement in enforcement and placing warning and directional buoys on the river.

A boat was taken out on the river and they made some visual notes of obstructions and formed a general plan for better information and signage of the proper channel and use of the river at that point by boats and pontoons.

The original channel is clear but isn’t directly under the center of the bridge, which could cause confusion for boaters who might assume that the deepest part of the river is at the center of the bridge.

“This means that contrary to directing a boat to the center of the bridge for safe depth, an operator needs to pay heed to the channel buoys located at the channel,” McKinney noted.

The placement of the buoys will be reviewed and placed in an appropriate spot.

In addition, the city will be requesting that the DNR remove the fill that remains from the construction of the old bridge so that the river bottom will be as it was before.

Councilman Rod Nordberg said he was concerned that the bridge doesn’t have 7-1/2 feet of clearance where the channel is - that much clearance is only in the center of the bridge.

Councilwoman Erika Randall said all of the buoys and signs are tacky and wanted the issue to be fixed so it didn’t require all the signs.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
(218) 732-3364
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