One year later: What’s changed at the Steel Dam?

Local News

Local authorities are warning boaters to stay away from the Steel Dam.

Rock Island Public Works crews have not been able to install the life-saving boat barrier in front of the dam this year because the water on the river is still too high.

It’s the same problem crews had last year when 5-year-old Maci Jade Chavez died after her family’s canoe was caught in the current and pulled into the dam.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sent a list of steps the city could take to make it safer last summer. Local 4 News checked to see if they followed through.

One was increasing announcements about the barrier’s status. Our newsroom has received two press releases about it this year.

But our investigation found not all of the changes appear to have been implemented.

Several of the recommendations involved more temporary signage about the dam and eventually more permanent signs, but we didn’t see any new markings at the dam.

The FERC also recommended looking at new barrier designs — ones that are stronger and more visible.

We tried to contact the Rock Island Public Works director three times to see if they looked at options, but did not get a response.

The public works director said in a press release that they can’t safely put out the barrier until the river level reaches 9.5 feet.

Right now it’s at 11.7 feet and expected to rise over the next week.

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