South Haven walkway to be repaired after a portion of concrete slabs collapse

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A portion of South Haven's harbor walk along the Black River remains closed Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, after it reportedly collapsed late Friday. (WWMT/Randi Burns)

A portion of the Harbor Walk along the Black River in South Haven was closed after the section collapsed Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.

Even though South Haven had high waves over the weekend after the collapse, the city was not certain if high water levels were the cause.

"Late Friday we had a report that we had slabs of concrete that fell," South Haven's Public Works Director Bill Hunter said. "Immediately when we received the report, we sectioned it off and now we are looking at getting a contractor in to lift up that concrete and see what is going on."

It is not the first time the walkway has needed repair for a collapse.

"Over the past few years we've had some that has happened along that walkway that we have repaired and it's just going to be something that continues going forward," Hunter said.

Several of the Great Lakes reached record water levels for 2019. Lake Michigan approached near record levels, bringing many issues to lake shore communities.

"During that time frame, we did have a lot of high waves coming in so that could have been a contributing factor to it, but we aren't sure as of yet," Hunter said.

The city planned to have contractors come in and clear out the part of the walkway that collapsed in order to determine the cause.

Due to the high water levels on Lake Michigan, South Haven Department of Public Works has had several projects around the city to help combat the issues from lake shore flooding and erosion.

"Just recently, we did a project along the Black River called the Dunkley side of the Black River," Hunter said. "There's an area there ... where we put in some temporary pumping just to pump it down so that area can be accessible."

The department is looking at another area and planned to propose its recommendations to the city counsel later in October.

The city has seen some of the lowest areas have trouble draining during high wave or heavy rain events.

"Our outfalls are all, of course, discharged to the waterways and most of them are submerged, which a lot of our communities up and down Lake Michigan are like that due to these high waters," Hunter said. "What that does is it causes water, when you have an event where you have 4.5 inches of rain or you have 2.5 inches of rain, it takes awhile for it to equalize and go down."

The city continued to block off the collapsed portion ahead of the scheduled repairs on Tuesday, Oct. 8. The department recommended people to stay away from those areas when waves are crashing over the walkway.

"Anytime, actually like this last weekend where you have waves going over, I would not recommend being near a walkway or a pier of any sort," Hunter said. "Any kind of waves heading up and going over there cause there is always a chance, a possibility of something happening. So I would stay clear of those anytime you see that, don't go out."

People can report needed repairs, such as a collapsed walkway, online or they can call the department at 269-637-0737.

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