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Lake path closed for repairs

Kristen Durbin | Thursday, October 29, 2009

The east area of the Saint Mary’s Lake footpath was closed Monday to allow for functional and aesthetic improvements on the path and the surrounding lakeshore.

This area, located just north of the Grotto at the northwest intersection of Saint Mary’s Road and St. Joseph Drive, has been a popular gathering spot, so heavy use coupled with erosion caused the asphalt in the area to deteriorate, according to Daniel Younggreen, distribution supervisor for Notre Dame Utilities.

“The main reason for replacing the path is that the walkway on the edge of the lake deteriorated due to wave action on the lake, which caused erosion in that area,” Younggreen said.

Another factor contributing to the deterioration of the path is that the area was previously coated with three-inch diameter field stones, and people most likely threw many of these stones into the lake. The gradual loss of field stone in the area led to further erosion of the shoreline.

Younggreen also noted safety is another central reason for repairing the path, which closely borders the lake, because further erosion could potentially be hazardous to pedestrians.

The project, overseen by ND Utilities for Landscape Services, involves replacing the remaining field stone with glacier field stone on the exposed shoreline. The new stone, with an average diameter of 12 to 18 inches, will be placed on geotextile fabric to prevent silt from getting into the field stone and to minimize erosion.

Improvements on the path also include the installation of a timber border between the path and the field tones for aesthetic purposes, Younggreen said. Also, a six-inch layer of aggregate base will be placed underneath the path to ensure and extend the life of the path.

In addition, a storm inlet structure will be installed along St. Joseph Drive to create a conduit for collecting rainwater. This structure will allow rainfall to run into the lake through the conduit instead of across the soil, which would cause increased erosion of the lakeshore.

“We [ND Utilities] are using best management practices throughout the project in doing anything we can do to improve storm water quality and be good stewards of the environment,” Younggreen said.

Although ND Utilities is overseeing the project, the paths around both Saint Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Lakes are maintained yearly by Notre Dame Landscape Services. The primary focus of the annual maintenance is to ensure the limestone paths are even and safe for use by members of the Notre Dame community.

The project will be completed within the next two weeks, culminating with the reopening of the area at noon on Nov. 6.

Younggreen said the project would not affect general use of the path because the area under construction is roped off for pedestrian safety.

The Saint Mary’s Lake paths and banks were last renovated in the summer of 1995 in order to improve the design of the lake area. The field stone currently being replaced was installed during the previous project.