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This page is a companion to bigEastern.com's Kankakee River Log and is hosted as a public service of Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. of North Judson, Indiana. The Kankakee River Log is intended to provide a comprehensive portal to information about the Kankakee River watershed in Indiana and Illinois. Links do not constitute endorsements of the content of any site not hosted by Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. nor do they in any way reflect the editorial policy of Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. No warranty of fitness or accuracy is provided.

The State Line Bridge debate

The state line bridge (Lake Co., Indiana bridge #36) is a historically significant iron truss bridge over the Kankakee River. The bridge is shown below, in an image from the official Lake Co. Highway Dept. page devoted to the bridge. The future of the bridge is controversial - the competing positions are outlined in the letters set out below, as well as in an OpEd piece in the Times of NWI referenced in the letters. Be sure to read both positions to get the full understanding of the debate.

KRLog Notes - 1.4.2002

Jody Melton explains KRBC position on State Line Bridge

Jody Melton writes explaining the KRBC position regarding the controversial State Line Bridge (pictured above) - note that Jody's comments are, in part, a reply to comments from Jim Sweeney; Jim's letter is posted below.

"The State Line Bridge is a safety issue, not a drainage issue. The Drainage Boards have not weighed in on this, but the county commissioners of Lake and Newton County, Indiana and Kankakee County, Illinois responsible for public safety and transportation have. They say that their constituents want the bridge and road reopened.

Local officials from Momence, Lake Village, and Schneider and the townships have also expressed the need for the state line road to reopen with a usable structure, not a relic of times past.

The old bridge is a wonderful structure, it should be preserved and used somewhere as a useful bridge for a limited purpose. It doesn't serve any purpose at the State Line but to collect debris, block river access and create a site for potential ice jam flooding.

The county commissioners have expressed a willingness to save the bridge for other uses if that is the wish of the preservationists. They are not willing to compromise the safety of the local people by allowing the bridge and road to remain closed. Emergency vehicles, everyday traffic, and visitors to LaSalle Fish & Wildlife Area deserve to have the State Line Road functioning again. It is not a new road creating great additional disturbance to the Kankakee Marsh. It is a replacement for an existing road.

As to riverbed sand load, that is a problem the counties in Indiana and the Kankakee River Basin Commission are working on. A series of sand traps have been created in the Kankakee and Yellow Rivers upstream and the Soil and Water Districts have increased support for best management practices on basin land. There are other efforts to address erosion limited only by the state's financial situation. The existing bedload will continue to cause problems until it moves or is removed.

The Times editorial of 12-26-02 recognized the wishes of the local leaders and the people who elected them who do feel the road is needed. It also recognizes the fact that the bridge is a danger to public safety; in structural integrity, in location, and in non-usability.

Replacing the bridge will not cause problems: it will provide safety, convenience, and usability for the residents of the Kankakee Basin in Indiana and Illinois."

Jody Melton
910 Dogwood St., SW
DeMotte, IN 46310

[editor's note] The KRLog's primary mission is to foster thoughtful discussion about the management and future of the Kankakee River watershed. If you'd like to comment please send e-mail.[ml]

KRLog Notes - 12.31.2002

Jim Sweeney responds to Times/NWI editorial

The fate of the antique iron bridges on the Kankakee continues to be in the news; lately it's been the State Line Bridge. There seems to be a consensus that the bridge has significant historical value, and that its bottom is too close to the surface of the river, but a difference of opinion remains as to whether a new bridge is needed, and whether dredging in the area of the bridge (or anywhere on the main river, for that matter) provides any meaningful benefits.

Jim Sweeney has written an open letter on the subject disputing the conclusions in the recent Times editorial:

"I was disappointed in the Times’ 12-26-02 editorial endorsing a new bridge at the Kankakee River and the Illinois Stateline. It would be one thing if that road was a needed thoroughfare, but it is not, and there have been no problems there for the three years the bridge has been closed.

The facts are that the debris is collecting at the bridge because the riverbed is rising every year. The unnatural flow of the artificial channel in Indiana deposits tons and tons of sand and silt at the Stateline every year where the natural river begins to meander again in Illinois.

Put in a new bridge and that only moves the problem farther downstream. It doesn’t fix a thing. Sadly, that is how drainage boards manage rivers in Indiana.

The solutions to all the problems of the Kankakee are upstream, upstream restoration and upstream retention. These problems become evident downstream, to correct them there is a temporary fix at best and an inefficient use of tax dollars.

I would have thought the Times would have researched this better.

A new bridge will hurt the river more than it will help Sumava Resorts."

Jim Sweeney
1773 Selo Dr.
Schererville, IN 46375

The KRLog welcomes comments about issues affecting the river - if you'd like to comment please send e-mail.[ml]