The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Iron County to seek bids for Saxon Harbor creek project


January 10, 2018


HurleyIron County is looking for a company to clear sections of Oronto and Parker creeks at Saxon Harbor this spring, after the Iron County Forestry and Parks Committee approved going out for bids on the project Tuesday.

The project will involve removing debris and sediment from Oronto Creek between the marina’s boat lift and Parker Creek, as well as Parker Creek from the confluence with Oronto to Lake Superior. The work is necessary to restore the flow of the creeks to their condition before the July 11, 2016 storm that flooded the harbor and destroyed the marina and campground.

The rest of Oronto Creek at the harbor will be handled by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“The DOT project is going to put in the bridge (to replace one damaged in the storm) and open up the creek down to the boat lift as part of their project,” Iron County Forest Administrator Eric Peterson said Tuesday, adding the DOT’s project could be bid out as early as February.

Peterson said the county’s engineering firm estimated a little over 5,000 cubic yards of material will need to be removed as part of the county’s portion of the project.

There is also debris blocking the mouth of Parker Creek, but Peterson said that part of the project will wait until spring.

“We’re going to see what the lake does over the course of the winter; whether it takes (the debris) out, puts some back, whatever,” Peterson said.

He said the plan is to look at the necessary work at the mouth of Parker Creek in May.

“I just don’t want to pay a contractor to take it out in February and have the lake put it all back in May, so we’re going to wait on that until spring,” Peterson said.

The county’s project will also repair a portion of the creek bank by the harbor’s east parking lot, and install riprap to protect the bank from future erosion.

The project is estimated to cost $245,793, and it has yet to be determined how much of the cost will be eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

“FEMA did not include the Parker Creek work … in their original scope of work,” Peterson said.

The county has since submitted documents to change the scope of work covered by FEMA and while he was fairly confident FEMA would cover the work, no decision has been made.

“No matter what, the only way we’re going to establish flow back to the lake is to open it up. So the hope is FEMA sees the logic in including that in our project and reimbursing us for it,” Peterson said. “At the end of the day we don’t have any choice but to open that section of creek up.”

Helping the county’s case is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is requiring the county to restore the creeks’ flow, as Peterson said FEMA will generally cover its share of work mandated by other government agencies.

If the project is deemed to be eligible for reimbursement, FEMA will pay for 75 percent of the costs and the county and state of Wisconsin will split the remaining 25 percent.

The work at the mouth of Parker Creek won’t be covered by FEMA, according to Peterson, as the county can’t put a solid number on the cost and the type of contract needed to get bidders isn’t eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

The bids for the work to clear the creeks are due Feb. 1

The contract is likely one of two remaining for the county to bid out, with the plan being to lump the remaining Saxon Harbor work into one bid for general contractors. Peterson said this will likely be bid out in March.


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