Friday, October 4, 2019

West Marsh Structure 2: Update #2 -- And Then There Was Sheet Pile

The drone was literally in the air for under 60 seconds before the first large rain drops started to fall late Wednesday
afternoon -- but the very brief window of opportunity afforded the chance for a good overview perspective of progress

Despite a couple rain-out days over the last week and a half, the project site has transformed pretty significantly since the last update. Where there was just a hole in the ground (or more technically a long, deep trench) during the last few days of September, there is now a complete channel of sheet pile connecting the "Main West Marsh" to the south (left in the photo above) to the "Rest Pond" to the north (right above).

This juvenile Pied-billed Grebe offered
some distraction while I was photo-
documenting progress at the project site
Earthen cofferdams still hold water back from both sides. This will remain the case until construction is about complete. The next steps are to 1) add a steel "cap" (upper frame of welded plate metal) to the top profile of the sheet pile walls; (2) add horizontal bracing at the top of each wall; (3) prep the bottom of the channel for the concrete floor; (4) prep the top of the cap for the eventual crossing; and, (5) backfill around the outside of each wall to add stability and to further prepare for the two concrete pours (channel floor and crossing deck).

It's our hope that much of this work will happen over the next week or two. With opening weekend of the main duck season set for Saturday, October 12th, the goal is to have the heaviest lifting behind us. By getting the largest machinery off the dike, we should be able to minimize the disturbance to the immediate area and the marsh in general.

Temps are FINALLY starting to normalize. After days of recording-breaking heat to end September and begin October, I dusted off the winter coat for the first time this morning when I went to take the dog for her morning run. We see a pattern of 60s/40s setting up in the 7-10 day forecast with more dry than rain. This should help move ducks and also should continue to help move the project along.

The crew setting one of the last "sticks" of steel on the southwest corner of what will become Structure 2

Another perspective of the newly constructed connection between our West Marsh management units;
this ~5'-wide channel will be a big improvement over the 18" pipe that currently serves as our only conduit

I never got a clear image, but I spent a good half hour trying -- this striking female Common Yellowthroat was seemingly
curious to monitor progress at the project site as well; despite fresh raindrops and this little warbler never holding still for more than a second, I couldn't help but try to capture a clear view before she continues on her migration south