JANESVILLE

The $1.27 million shoreline restoration project near the site of the former Monterey Dam is moving forward come rain or high water, a city official says.

Janesville Public Works Director Paul Woodard said the project is on schedule and should be completed around October.

Drax Inc., the Madison company that demolished the dam last summer, is overseeing the work, which aims to restore the area to a more natural state that includes wetlands and wooded habitats.

Nearly $920,000 in grants from the state Department of Natural Resources is paying for the work.

Crews finished working downstream from the Monterey Rock over the winter, so the former lagoon area is the current focus. With this year’s heavy precipitation and flooding, the area has consistently been a muddy, sloppy spot.

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Woodard said this part of the project should be done by August or September. The bay area will be dredged into a small peninsula surrounded by a stormwater pond. It will have natural grasses along the shoreline and additional kayak and fishing access points.

A Gazette reporter saw no equipment or people working in the lagoon area Monday.

Woodard said city officials designed the project timeline to accommodate circumstances such as extreme weather, and that has allowed work crews to stay on track throughout a rainy spring and summer.

“If the river had been at more traditional levels or lower, the contractor might have been able to get that done earlier,” Woodard said.

Shawn McCarten, who owns It’s a Keeper Bait & Tackle, a nearby bait shop, said people were nervous about the project at first, but most have changed their minds.

“A lot of naysayers have come up to me and said, ‘I had my doubts, but it looks beautiful,’” McCarten said.

Some anglers told McCarten they were concerned about what the dam project might do to the fish habitat, but McCarten said if fish want to live somewhere, they will find a way.

“Fish always appear places,” he said.

“Mother Nature alone will get them in there with the birds and the ducks and the herons.”

While he knows the mud flats will involve a different kind of restoration than the parts of the project that are already completed, he said people should have faith that the project will turn out fine.

“That’s a whole new tiger to tame because you’re working right at water level,” he said.

“It’s like planting a seed. Give it time, and it will produce eventually.”

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