A two-year/$21 million railroad trestle project is not so big or so important that it will stop the seasonal migration of steelhead trout up the Grand River in Lake County.
As part of an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the 104-year-old Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle spanning the Grand River in Painesville City, the construction company building the 1,400-foot-long, 100-foot tall replacement structure has likewise agreed to crack open a section of the 900-foot-long temporary approach causeway needed by the job’s heavy equipment.
This “gap” in the dike and the addition of several large diameter concrete flow tubing will allow steelhead and other fishes to successfully navigate the stream.
“As per our previous correspondence, Norfolk Southern requested an extension for in water work in the Grand River at Painesville, Ohio. The extension was granted till last Friday, November 17th.
“Since the beginning of the project, Great Lakes Construction intended to open up the causeway to allow greater flow during the winter and spring months…. Great Lakes Construction excavated and armored an opening in the causeway last week. This work was completed prior to the end of the extension.
“Also as part of this work, additional pipes were installed above the existing pipes as previously discussed with the Corp of Engineers.,” said Howard C. Swanson in a letter to an Army Corps official that was sent “Ohio Outdoor News,” courtesy of Lake Metroparks.
Swanson is the construction company’s assistant chief engineer.
The gap and additional flow pipe saw almost immediate action, too. The heavy rains and Lake Effect snow showers that arrived November 17th through the 19th swelled the Grand River beyond its flood stage. This surge of water by-passing the dike prompted some local residents and steelhead anglers to mistakenly believe that the dike had been breached rather than being a deliberately engineered high-water “safety valve.”
Thus, says Swanson, the gap is “performing as intended (and is) not a blowout.”
Immediately prior to the mid-November storm event, steelhead anglers were taken full advantage of the fish which had been stymied in their upstream migration by the Grand River’s unusually low water.
This fishy traffic jam caused a stack up of trout from the bridge and downstream several hundred yards to underneath the Ohio Route 84 bridge and thence to Lake Metroparks’ 54-acre Beaty Landing Park in Painesville City – and even further.
However, with the gap and additional flowage offered by the piping, at least now the trout will be able to continue their journey to the many and varied steelhead-fishing honey holes located as far as upstream as Ashtabula County Metropark’s 53-acre Harpersfield Covered Bridge Park.
The railroad trestle replacement project should be completed by the end of next year.