The state has launched and initiative which makes use of soil dredged from the silt-choked Illinois River to build a new park on Lake Michigan. Sixty barge loads of sediment dredged from the Illinois River at East Peoria are traveling 163 miles to the old U.S. Steel Chicago South Works site to provide 90,000 tons of rich soil for green space and community recreational use along the shoreline.
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Gov. Pat Quinn announced the Mud-to-Parks program Wednesday in East Peoria “Mud-to-Parks is helping Mother Nature return the soil to the land while boosting recreational opportunities and habitat,” Quinn said. “Some of the richest soil on the continent, which is currently in Peoria Lake, originally came from the watershed. We’ve taken sediment that was clogging the Illinois River here in Central Illinois and put it to good use for a park along the Lake Michigan shore.”
The 2012 Mud-to-Parks project follows shipments of 114,000 tons of Illinois River mud which was laid down over 25 acres at the South Works site in 2004 and 2007. Native grasses and small trees are now sprouting on property that was largely steel mill slag. The sediment removed from Lower Peoria Lake on the Illinois River has the consistency of toothpaste when dredged and loaded onto barges.
After the two-day trip up the Illinois River, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Calumet Sag Channel and Little Calumet River to a Lake Michigan slip, the mud is off-loaded, trucked to the site and spread on the slag. The mud then dries and develops a granular soil structure prior to final grading on the park parcel.