Heavy equipment breaks through ice while dredging Maplewood pond

A skid loader, which was being used to dredge Wicklanders Pond near the Maplewood Community Center, broke through the ice and sunk front-first into the muck on Monday afternoon, Jan. 20. The project crew chained two other vehicles to the excavating machine to yank it out later that day, according to city staff, and the engine wasn't damaged. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

A skid loader broke through the ice and sunk halfway into the muck being dredged from a pond near the Maplewood Community Center on Monday afternoon, Jan. 20.

A tow truck that idled on Van Dyke Street for a while wasn't what pulled it out. Instead, the project crew chained two mini backhoes to the heavy machinery and yanked it from slush-covered Wicklanders Pond, according to Michael Thompson, the Maplewood public works director.

Even though the vehicle was partially under water for a few hours near the east shore, the machine's motor wasn't damaged.

"Having a piece of equipment half submerged is never good, but it ended up, certainly, on a more positive note," Thompson said. "They ended up pulling it out and they could start it up."

A few workers and other vehicles were also on the ice while the loader was stuck.

Dredging the pond

The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District is the lead agency on the sediment-removal project, partnering with the city of Maplewood to dredge Wicklanders Pond.

The dredging was identified as necessary during an inventory of all the city's water bodies over the past several years, according to city documents.

Thompson said County Line Excavating has been cutting through the ice in order to excavate a thick layer of sediment that's collected at the pond's bottom. The plan is to restore its original capacity, allowing it to collect water to be filtered into the ground.

The project will also improve water quality downstream at Wakefield Lake, an impaired water body, according to city documents.

Heavy-duty equipment plunging into water isn't unheard of on these type of projects, Thompson said, especially following inconsistent temperatures.

"The site conditions fluctuate quite a bit," he said. "These aren't easy projects. I wouldn't say it's common for that to happen, but [equipment breaking through the ice] does happen."

The watershed district awarded the project contract to North Metro Asphalt, the primary contractor, according to city documents.

The district is in charge of indirect costs, such as design and inspections, and the city is responsible for construction costs. The estimated cost of the construction work is $123,239, according to city documents, but the actual expense may change depending on the amount of sediment removed.

The Maplewood City Council approved $140,000 to be set aside for the project budget on Jan. 13.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7814 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.


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