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Rapid movement on restoring Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids

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Posted at 9:29 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 22:42:23-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There's a major movement toward putting the rapids back in the Grand River.

The City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids WhiteWater announced they're looking for a construction management team. It's a milestone more than a decade in the making.

The city and the local nonprofit say this is a big step in the right direction. They're looking for someone innovative and collaborative.

The two are saying a lot of diligent work has gone into trying to put the river back to its natural look

The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids is a popular place for many to go and hang out.

When it comes to having the rapids flow back in through, the City of Grand Rapids and The Grand Rapids WhitWeater are inching closer to making their vision a reality.

"So those dams would be removed, and then those rocks and boulders will be placed back in. So there would be a lot more whitewater in this reach of the river right here. So right now, we see pretty flat water. It's moving, but we don't really see; the only whitewater we see is what is from the other two dams that are upstream by Bridge Street.

The two recently announced on Wednesday they now need a construction manager.

"Now we are starting to set our sights on that construction and what would you know, look like so yeah, it's really exciting," Grand Rapids Project Manager Michael Staal told FOX17.

Staal says they want applications in by April 25th.

"So, it's another huge milestone in this really big project that Grand Rapids has been rallying around," Grand Rapids WhiteWater Project Manager Matt Chapman told FOX17.

Once applicants are in, they're going to look at qualifications. Then interview finalists before recommending them to the city commission in June.

"I think that this river is gonna look very different than what it looks like today. You know, I mean, right now we have four dams. In the river, and they're in a city called Grand Rapids," Staal said.

Chapman says the two are still working to secure permits, so hopefully, construction can start later this year.

"We're waiting to hear back from EGLE if they accept the application is complete, that should happen within the next 45 days. And then from there, there'll be a timeline that'll be laid out for when the actual permit process and when permits could be issued.

Chapman says the Sixth Street dam is going to stay in place for a few more years before possibly removing it. He says they're looking at alternatives to providing a barrier against the invasive sea lamprey species.

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