Friday, November 7, 2014

Grand River steelheaders will likely find disruptions as Vrooman Road work commences

It’s going to be a temporary tight squeeze at one of Northeast Ohio’s most popular – and productive – public steelhead fishing venues.

Following the passage of an illegally overweight truck traveling across the Vrooman Road Bridge, enough damage was done to shut the structure down.

This might not be much of a problem for anyone other than motorists except that the bridge spans the Grand River between Lake County’s Perry and Leroy townships.

And on the north side of the bridge is Lake Metroparks’ 133-acre Mason’s Landing Park while cattycorner on the southeast side is the agency’s 408-acre Indian Point Park. This latter park shares space with the Grand River and Seeley Road.

Indian Point Park – and to a lesser extent Mason’s Landing Park – is a major destination for steelhead anglers. This park not only edges the Grand River but encompasses much of Paine Creek; itself a highly sought-after watering hole for migrating steelhead.

So while the Lake County Engineer, working with the Ohio Department of Transportation, roll up their collective sleeves to build a temporary bridge in this location both agencies are also engrossed in planning and preparing to construct a multi-million dollar high-level bridge.

This latter bridge will facilitate better access between Ohio Route 84 on the north and Interstate 90 to the south.

Consequently, the effort to erect two bridges back-to-back at the same location and within a good fly-rod cast of an enormously popular and productive steelhead fishing hole is bound to create conflicts for anglers.

However, efforts are underway by Lake Metroparks to try and ensure the least amount of disruption for steelheed anglers and all other park users, says the agency’s Executive Director, Paul Palagyi.

“Indian Point Park and its proximity to the Grand Rivers poses unique challenges but we are working closely with the Lake County Engineer and Leroy Township trustees to maintain access to the park this winter,” Palagyi said.

That being said, Palagyi notes too that at times the weather and other possible factors may require the closure of Seeley Road, itself not an always unusual event.

“Our first priority has been – and will continue to be – the safety of our visitors,” Palagyi said.

While Seeley Road and subsequent access to Indian Point Park via that route is frequently closed off whenever spring flood waters and ice sprint unto the road, the additional drama of bridge construction will add another element to the closure mix, also says Palagyi.

“It will create some additional challenges,” he said.

Among them will be an almost certain blockading of Seeley Road from the opposite direction. A steep, graveled road plunges just before it finishes its dip at the base of a bridge over Paine Creek.

This hillside road can prove treacherous when covered in snow and ice or even when rains create rivulet washouts in the gravel.

So the best advice is for steelhead anglers to exercise restraint and patience while all the responsible parties work through the anticipated and unanticipated difficulties, says Palagyi.

“At the end of the project we are going to have a new park on the river’s south side, a new canoe launch area, a new pedestrian bridge across the Grand as well as additional acreage of publicly accessible river frontage,” said Palagyi. 

“All of this will ultimately contribute to improved public access to this great natural resource, including for our steelhead-fishing guests.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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