White Pine Trail users will soon be re-routed around downtown excavation work planned for the trail and adjacent areas along Rum Creek. Leather scraps, related tannery waste, contaminated soils, and river sediments will be removed by Wolverine Worldwide contractors as part of “Time-Critical” clean-up actions identified pursuant to a Unilateral Administrative Order issued on January 10 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Excavation work will include removal of any contaminated soils located within 3 feet of the trail surface. Identified leather scraps and related debris along the trail will be removed to a minimum of 3 feet below grade. Contaminated river sediments will also be removed from three specific locations – immediately upstream from the downtown canoe/kayak landing, a few yards downstream from Rum Creek at an undeveloped landing, and adjacent to the trail’s parking lot north of the Rockford Footwear Depot.
Work activities will require trail traffic to be re-routed from the parking lot mentioned above to the downtown canoe/kayak landing. Information kiosks have been installed near these locations as part of the required work plan. The kiosks are intended to display informational updates regarding trail usage as work commences.
Excavation traffic will be routed directly to North Main Street after temporary road surfaces are laid. In order to reduce on-site traffic, trucks will be staged in the parking lot east of the former tannery location. Temporary signs will be installed on North Main Street to warn motorists of the temporary truck entrance/crossing. All excavation equipment will be regularly cleaned of “gross material” between excavation areas to reduce the chance of contaminated materials leaving the site.
On-lookers might be surprised by the substantial removal of trail vegetation during construction. This will be required for adequate access to work areas. However, the work plan includes plantings intended to restore the original character to affected areas as well as structural restoration and stabilization of the banks of both the Rogue River and Rum Creek.
Wolverine Worldwide is reportedly in the final stages of selecting their contractor to execute their work plan. Work could start at the contractor’s earliest availability. The permit required to re-route this section of trail has already been approved by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Trail restoration will likely extend into the early part of next year.
Documents related to these activities (including the work plan) are available on a dedicated page at the EPA’s website (https://www.epa.gov/mi/wolverine-world-wide-tannery). A CD-ROM disc has also been deposited at the reference desk of the Krause Memorial Library for use by individuals who do not have online access.
On-going community discussions about the pending trail closure and related activities are hosted by the Wolverine CAG at its monthly meetings. The text of this article (in amended form) was submitted to the Rockford Squire earlier today to help fore-warn trail users of the impending trail closure.