The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Riverbank issue flowing yet again

Find out more about the river bank project.

A UW-Madison engineering professor will spend the next three months studying the stability of the south side of the Chippewa River bank along campus.

Tuncer Edil, a civil and environmental engineering professor, presented his plans to study the south side riverbank’s condition at a meeting Monday in Davies Center with university officials and other people involved or concerned with the project.

The bank has been the yearlong focus of an UW-Eau Claire plan to stabilize the area along the Chippewa River.

Story continues below advertisement

The state’s Division of Facilities Development hired Edil as a sub-consultant to Ayres Associates, who are the project’s main engineers. Edil will only study the bank’s stability and will not offer solutions to the project’s design.

“I’ll try to come up with my best engineering judgment of whether it’s safe or unsafe,” Edil said of the riverbank.

The almost $1 million state-funded project originally proposed about a year ago would address the university’s concerns of the south riverbank being unstable and having the potential of collapsing into the river due to a major flood. School officials say that would destroy Garfield Avenue and the utility pipes buried along it.

The initial stabilization design, opposed in a December report by Department of Natural Resources officials for being too intrusive to the river and overall unnecessary, would be about 1,200 feet in length.

The stabilization slope would start about 100 feet upstream from the footbridge and end near the Putnam parking lot.

University officials say Edil’s study is the beginning of their attempt to find “middle ground” with faculty and area residents concerned with the project. A hearing that would decide the fate of the original design is on hold so the project’s plans can run through second opinions.

“We’ve gone back to square one,” Vice Chancellor Andy Soll said at the meeting.

For design purposes, Edil said he plans to look at any potential changes or impacts that may affect the bank’s stability in later years.

If Edil finds the bank to be unstable, Soll said, the next step would be to create a design to fit within the given DNR guidelines.

Original plans called for a slope extending about 70 feet into the river, but DNR officials want no more than a five-foot intrusion.

Edil will present his findings at a meeting within the next three months, although university officials are urging him to have a pre-report ready before the end of the semester in mid-May.

Eau Claire geography professor Sean Hartnett said at the meeting that he and other faculty members do not want Edil’s findings presented without their leader present, associate geography professor J. Brian Mahoney.

Mahoney is on sabbatical leave until early June in Washington state and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

“We cannot constructively give you any input without our lead person (Mahoney),” Hartnett said. “In one person you can get the whole thing.”

Facilities Planning and Management Director Terry Classen said Mahoney told him to continue with the re-examining process of the project, which officials planned to do anyway.

“The process has to continue,” Classen said. “We can’t just halt this thing.”

Classen and Soll told Hartnett they would communicate with Mahoney and try to schedule Edil’s presentation for when he is back. Edil said he is interested in hearing other people’s thoughts and seeing faculty research dealing with the riverbank.

A hearing is still possible, Classen said, if middle ground can’t be reached. This would make the university go to a hearing to decide the matter, although it would like to avoid one, he said.

It took 11 months for the university to get a hearing granted, Soll said, so “there’s nothing lost in keeping this application open.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Riverbank issue flowing yet again