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Who Will Clean Up The Massive St. Paul Log Jam?

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – If your Fourth of July plans have you on the Mississippi River, there is one area where boats can’t travel.

A log jam near Raspberry Island in downtown St. Paul, has doubled in size since last Friday.

It’s blocking off access to boats under the entrance bridge to Raspberry Island.

Clean up may take time, as there’s discussion over who should cover the cost.

From his house boat on the Mississippi, John Thompson couldn’t ask for a better view of the river.

“We’ve been living on the boat for almost four years,” Thompson said.

Over the weekend, that view became cause for concern.

“Already this morning, we’ve had breakaway logs from that pile come down and crash into our boat,” Thompson said. “We’re scared.”

A log jam has built up about 100 yards from Thompson’s floating home. It’s a result of the recent storms that toppled trees and also raised water levels on the river, creating a swift current.

It’s a problem that’s not just affecting him. Roger Anderson of the St. Paul yacht club said the log jam is a hit to business.

Boats now can’t travel under the bridge on one of the busiest weeks of the year.

“It’s a problem for us because this bridge is a major access to 28 slips down here,” Anderson said.

There’s discussion over who takes care of cleanup. Anderson believes it’s the city’s responsibility.

“It’s a city bridge,” Anderson said. “If it was on my facility, I would be responsible to clean it up.”

But Director of St. Paul Emergency Management Rick Larkin said it’s more complicated than that.

The logs are on a national waterway, touching both private and city property.

“We really have to work with all those parties — the city’s not in position to just come in,” Larkin said. “It’s not appropriate.”

One potential compromise is to split the estimated $25,000 cleanup.

“We’re looking at, and trying to reach a solution,” Larkin said.

As all sides work toward a fix, Thompson won’t see much boat traffic on July 4, but he’ll be watching what the current sends his way.

“We can move quickly if we have to,” Thompson said.

Larkin said city workers are out every day making sure this log jam doesn’t compromise the bridge integrity.
So far, it’s not an issue.

Anderson said splitting the cost may still be too expensive for the yacht club to take on. The discussions with the city will continue.

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