The City of Winnemucca and Hunewill Construction cleaned up the Humboldt riverbed between the Melarkey and Bridge Street bridges.
Spring 2017’s flooding did quite a number on the riverbed, swelling the banks of the river to mere feet from the sidewalk, Winnemucca Public Works Supervisor Roger Sutton said. The buildup of dirt impeded water flow. Excavating the riverbed will help water flow more freely when the next flood hits.
The project required some heavy equipment. Excavators passed riverbed dirt from the bed to waiting trucks ready to haul it away. Beeps of the horn told drivers when to stop and when to go. Excavator operators like Joel Albright made the machines look positively graceful.
It took some care and finesse to maneuver the excavators down the banks. If operators did it just wrong the machine would have ended up stuck in the mud, damaging the machine and the banks as well as injuring the operator.
The tank treads also got mucked up with mud. At the end of the day, the operator used the bucket arm to tilt the machine to either side and spin the tread to loosen the mud — the heavy machinery version of knocking mud off boots at the door.
Sutton and Hunewill supervisor Miguel Diaz estimated the project would take three to four days. The work may have left the river looking a little ugly, but it will be ready when waters rise again.