Children attending Fiddleheads Preschool line up along the fence at Cope Park to watch an excavator dredge Gold Creek on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Children attending Fiddleheads Preschool line up along the fence at Cope Park to watch an excavator dredge Gold Creek on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

City clearing gravel from Gold Creek

Project aims to protect concrete flume from erosion

If you’ve driven on Egan Drive between downtown and Lemon Creek this week, you might have noticed that the right side of the outgoing lane is wet. It’s not a case of isolated rain showers.

The City and Borough of Juneau’s Public Works Department is dredging in Gold Creek at Cope Park this week, working to clear it of gravel and other rocks. Streets, Fleet and Transit Superintendent Ed Foster said Wednesday that this takes place on an annual basis, and it’s done in order to keep tons of gravel from traveling across the concrete flume on the river and damaging it. Gravel builds up in Cope Park every year, Foster said.

CBJ employees are doing the work, using six trucks from Channel Construction, Foster said. The trucks are loaded up with gravel at Cope Park — which has remained open since the project began Monday — and the trucks take the gravel over to the city lot behind Home Depot and Costco, Foster said.

The trucks are dripping with water from the creek as they take the gravel across town, leaving a dark path on the road as the water tumbles out of the back of the trucks. Foster said they try to do this project each year, and do it in warmer temperatures so the water doesn’t freeze on the road.

Foster said he hopes the project is done by Thursday, but there’s a great deal of gravel to be removed from the river. He said there are about 2,000 cubic yards of rocks and gravel to remove from the creek this year, which is about on par with how much they remove every year.

This operation, Foster said, dates back more than 50 years. The Army Corps of Engineers built the concrete flume on the creek in 1962, according to a recent Corps of Engineers report. Foster said he isn’t quite sure why the concrete was put in, but believes it’s to keep the creek from eroding too much as heavy rainfall rises the river’s banks from time to time.

The Corps of Engineers turned the flume over to the city to maintain, and one of the requirements they set was that the city must monitor and dispose of the materials that build up in the creek. Each year, the Corps of Engineers inspects the flume for damage, and Foster said the city tries to dredge the materials out of the river prior to the annual inspection.

Foster said they consult the Alaska Department of Fish & Game about the project and the department signed off, saying there was no risk to disturbing wildlife in the area.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

An excavator dredges Gold Creek at Cope Park on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

An excavator dredges Gold Creek at Cope Park on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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