MINSTER — A project along the Miami and Erie Canal should help improve the waterway for years to come.
Auglaize County Design Engineer Matt Quinter noted construction crews are approximately 70 percent done with phase one of a two-phased ditch petition project along the Miami and Erie Canal in Minster. The project will improve the waterway from First Street to Ohio 119 through the village.
In the fall of 2009, village officials filed a ditch petition with the Auglaize County commissioners to improve the portion of the canal that runs through the village. In its petition, the village sought to remove obstructions to provide a deepened outlet for subsurface drainage, stabilize its banks and to place the project under permanent maintenance. The project gained approval and Tumbusch Construction started phase one — the portion of the canal from First to Seventh streets — in January.
“They removed all the brush necessary for the project and that took a couple of months to do,” Quinter said. “Once they were done with that, they started placing the rock on the banks and we estimated 22,000 tons of riprap is to be used for bank stabilization.”
Stabilizing the banks is important because the area has been subject to erosion for the past several years. Quinter said there are properties that have lost several feet because of erosion.
“In several cases, land owners were losing parts of their yards year after year,” Quinter said. “Where they were mowing 10 feet further out, that is now gone and it’s creeping closer to homes, garages and out buildings along the canal. In many cases they are basically losing part of their land along there.”
The majority of the rock work has been completed on the east side of the canal from First to Seventh streets. On the west side, crews have the majority of the rock work from Seventh to Third streets completed.
“They will be working their way back to First Street in the coming weeks,” Quinter said. “During the next few weeks, for the sections that are done, they will go back and do the final leveling and seeding to get the grass going.”
According to the construction contract, phase one of the project is to be completed by Dec. 31. Quinter said phase two — from Seventh Street to Ohio 119 — is being coordinated with the Fourth Street renovation project because of the need for backfill.
“Because of our proposal, we needed 35,000 yards of fill to complete the project,” Quinter said. “So the fill that’s coming out of Fourth Street is being used as fill right now. As the fill is reached, we will complete the section from Seventh Street to Ohio 119. That fill process is moving along much quicker than we anticipated, which is a good thing.”
Quinter noted phase two has yet to be placed out for bidding. The estimate for the project, including both phases, is $935,000.
The permanent improve provision included in the petition should make sure the canal does not fall into disrepair.
“The important thing about the maintenance is that it will continue in the same condition forever,” Quinter said.
“So when the construction is done and finished, the county, under that agreement, agrees to maintain in that condition forever. So that’s important. You are paying the initial construction costs, but you are also insuring it will be maintained in that condition forever.”
Village Administrator Don Harrod said the improvements should help the village in several key areas.
“One is that it is making the canal look more aesthetically pleasing than it did and the work they have done so far is tremendous,” Harrod said. “I have heard a lot of positive comments. The other benefit of doing the canal project is the increase in storm water drainage for us. We haven’t had a lot of rain to see if it’s made an improvement but getting rid of the debris is going to help us with that.”
Increasing the curb appeal of the canal also should attract outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hitting the trail that meanders along side the waterway.
“I know with the bike path that goes between Minster and New Bremen, they will be able to utilize that,” Harrod said. “Hopefully with all the improvements to the trail and making it more aesthetically pleasing should help us draw some more people. Hopefully with all the communities working together, along with the work of MECCA, it will bring more people in.”