After two accidents on the Rock River in two years, the city of Janesville is working on a river safety plan.
A 9-year-old girl drowned after being swept downstream at Anglers Park near the Monterey Bridge on June 25.
The city has already installed temporary warning signs in Anglers Park that say “No swimming or wading” and “Warning, strong current.”
But permanent signs are planned at the park, along with a throw-ring station.
In 2019, an 8-year-old boy fell from a floating pier at the new ARISE Town Square near the Court Street Bridge. The current swept him downstream. He was rescued.
After the 2019 incident, two throw-rings were installed on the west side of the river, one on either side of the Court Street Bridge. A cable held up by red buoys also was installed on the west side of the river near the bridge.
Parks Supervisor Ethan Lee said residents have submitted advice about river safety upgrades, but no formal survey was done, and the Janesville Fire Department was not consulted.
The plan’s purpose is to “create awareness that rivers are a water body that are a little less predictable than, say, lakes, so we want people to stay safe when they’re near this great recreational resource that we have here in Janesville,” Lee said.
Officials have not ruled out installing fencing, but the plan right now is focused only on raising awareness of dangers, Lee said.
Lee pointed out that the city is committed to developing the river as a recreational resource, and fencing would restrict recreational access, such as access for fishing at Anglers Park.
The plan calls for signs warning of dangerous conditions such as deep water or swift current at 21 river-access points from the north end of Riverside Park downstream to the Afton Road boat launch.
Those access points include steps leading to the river and canoe/boat launches.
Plans are to complete the installations this fall.
The cost should be in the $2,500 to $3,000 range, Lee said. The city’s insurance carrier, Cities and Villages Mutual Insurance, is chipping in a $1,400 grant, which the city must match.