Chesterton Tribune



Dune damage done in clearing snow from Lakefront Drive in Beverly Shores

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The Polar Vortex brutalized Duneland in all sorts of ways: lost productivity, frozen pipes, potholes.

Here’s one more way: damage to the dunes along Lakefront Drive in the Town of Beverly Shores, caused by the payloader which the town’s contractor was forced to use to clear snow from the road.

Beverly Shores Town Council President Geof Benson told the Chesterton Tribune that both residents and the National Park Service (NPS) were clamoring for the opening of Lakeshore Drive last week, in the wake of the Polar Vortex’s tender mercies.

But the town’s contractor, D & M Excavating of Michigan City, found its regular plows no match for Lakefront Drive. Two of them failed, whether due to mechanical problems or simply to the roadway’s impassability, Benson was unable to say. D & M accordingly used a payloader to move the snow and in the process disturbed portions of the dunes.

Benson noted that the Town of Beverly Shores owns the 60-foot public right-of-way which is Lakefront Drive, 30 feet on either side of the center line. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, on the other hand, owns the beachfront north of Lakefront Drive, beginning where the right-of-way ends.

A payloader is “not a delicate instrument,” Benson said. “But it was a snow emergency, the whole road was closed by drifting, and they couldn’t get plows through. The only choice was a payloader. Did we have the right to do this? Yes. Was it the most sensitive way of doing it? No. It was a state of emergency, though, and hopefully if there was damage it will recover. These were extraordinary circumstances.”

“It’s a foredune,” Benson added. “It’s used to abuse and recovery. Learning to live with the lake and sand, sometimes it’s give and take.”

Today NPS spokesman Bruce Rowe told the Tribune that the assessment of the damage is ongoing. But officials have determined that the payloader left tire tracks in the dunes, did some gouging thereof, and in places damaged curbing as well.

“Most of the damage was where north-south roads meet Lakefront Drive,” Rowe said. And “it does need to be restored and repaired. But we are working with the town and we don’t see it as a major issue by any means.”

Rowe did say that “It’s too early in the assessment” to make any kind of a dollar estimate of the damage.

“We understand it happened during the extraordinary snow event,” Rowe said. “It’s certainly not an ecological disaster. It can be restored. And we’re working with the town.”


Posted 1/17/2014