Neosho River Logjam Causing Concern For Nearby Residents

GRDA says because of recent heavy rains, a huge driftwood debris field the size of several football fields has formed right up against the Highway 60 bridge. Leaders in the area are worried about how the buildup might affect towns upstream.

Wednesday, May 1st 2024, 5:30 pm

By: Matt Rahn


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A logjam the size of several football fields is causing concern for people who live along the Neosho River. Leaders in the area are worried about how the buildup might affect towns upstream.

GRDA says because of recent heavy rains, a huge driftwood debris field has formed right up against the Highway 60 bridge. 

Thousands of mangled trees and trash continue to pile up in the Neosho River.

“There’s everything in there, looks like there’s a deep freeze laying in there somewhere,” said fisherman Brian Warder.

Warder and many others have come just to see the pile-up.

“This is my first time to be down here physically,” said Miami Mayor Bless Parker.

Parker is getting his first look at the huge mess. Even though this log jam is about 10 miles downstream from his city, he’s worried about potential flooding.

“Our concern with the City of Miami is we already have a dam that we deal with, and we get backwater flooding from the dam at Pensacola, and this is just another dam in the way now,” said Parker.

He's also upset about who should be taking responsibility for its cleanup.

“This should be taken care of. GRDA should be responsible for this. They should be all over this. Instead, I hear they’re pointing the finger and passing the buck on to ODOT,” Parker said.

News On 6 reached out to GRDA for comment but has not heard back. ODOT says it’s had engineers look over the bridge and says it's safe for traffic, but Mayor Parker is worried the problems are compounding.

“I’m not sure how you would resolve this now.”

Parker says maybe one solution is doing something like the BNSF railroad, which is using a crane to remove driftwood under its bridge near Miami. Either way, he just wants to see action.

ODOT says they are still working on a plan to remove the debris. They say one option is getting a barge from upriver to help clear the driftwood. 

ODOT sent the following statement on Wednesday regarding the logjam:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is continuing to monitor a buildup of driftwood and debris at the US-60 bridge over the Neosho River in Ottawa County in northeast Oklahoma. The drift accumulation began over the weekend after heavy rains fell across parts of Oklahoma and Kansas that contribute to the Neosho River basin. Bridge engineers with the department have inspected the structure and have found no issues currently affecting its integrity. This structure can withstand a buildup of drift much larger than presently exists. ODOT engineers will continue to closely monitor the situation and will respond as needed should conditions warrant to ensure the safety of the traveling public. The department is working with the Grand River Dam Authority and BNSF Railway to develop a plan for remediation. Plans are being put together; however, the water levels and velocities must subside before any action can be taken to address the drift build up. ODOT appreciates the related input received from the local and elected officials.
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