McGregor riverfront to get a new look

McGregor Riverfront
Riverfront improvements are on their way for the McGregor area as soon as the city can take the steps necessary to gain approval from organizations like the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The diagram above shows the potential improvements.

By Caitlin Bittner

A few weeks ago at the June 19 regular City of McGregor Council meeting, Davy Engineering Co. in La Crosse made a presentation regarding potential changes and development of the McGregor riverfront. Some of the changes proposed include a mutli-use path, a reconfigured public pier and dock and a vertical wall.
The multi-use path would be shared by bicycles, joggers, skaters and pedestrians. The path could also be connected to other bike trails and paths in the future. Because it will be located below the 100-year base flood elevation, everything on and around the path, such as lighting and railings, will need to be designed to withstand flooding conditions.
The public pier would enhance access to the Mississippi River for both residents, as well as visitors. Aside from being a wonderful place to observe the river and fish, the pier will also serve as a temporary dock for transient boaters. However, the pier would probably need to be removed each winter in order to prevent damage from the river’s ice. A ramp sloped for handicapped access would be built in order to give the public access to the pier.
The vertical wall and its cost are both highly dependent upon underground conditions and further investigation will need to be done in order to determine what the best plan of action and cost will be.
After clearing this big project with organizations like the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the first step, said McGregor Mayor Gay Hallberg, is to clean the riprap. “It might not be much, but it’s a start,” commented Hallberg.
“With the Dock Commission on board, we have to start getting the money,” said Hallberg, who added that if they are going to spend the money, they want everything to be right.
The highest cost estimates for the project could be in the range of $4.8 million; however, that factors in the need for a robust wall made out of deeper and thicker sheet pile and the addition of tie backs. Without the add-ons, the project cost could be in the range of $3.4 million.
While the first plan is the ideal plan, the vertical wall may not be affordable for the city, and as such, an alternative plan is also being considered. This plan would scratch the vertical wall and focus on enhancing the existing sloped riprapped bank. The walkway width would vary to accommodate the existing features like the gauging station and shelter house. The narrowed path would also be restricted as a walkway rather than a multi-use path; however, no railings would be necessary. A project like this, which would still include the public pier and dock, has an estimated cost of less than $1 million.
Although no work on this project will be starting until next spring at the earliest, Hallberg admitted that she is very excited to see this project get underway, hinting that she thinks there is a lot of untapped beauty in the riverfront area. “When I became mayor, I knew the riverfront was a ‘golden egg’ so I started talking to Lynette Sander about it. [She] is a godsend; she really got it to where it is.”
Regardless of what is being planned, Hallberg urged the importance of having community feedback regarding the project. “If there is a meeting, we always invite the public to come with their concerns and ideas,”
With some of the preliminary steps out of the way, Hallberg added that a committee would soon be chosen to take charge of planning for this project.

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