Trees causing logjam on Mississippi near St. Paul

Storm-swept trees and branches, some as big as telephone poles, are creating a logjam on the Mississippi River near downtown St. Paul.

Workers haven’t been able to clear the debris because contractors were concerned about the high water levels, said city spokesman Joe Campbell.

But he said more workers were expected to survey the area on Friday and removal could start as soon as then, Campbell said.

The operation could cost from $15,000 to $25,000, according to St. Paul’s emergency management director Rick Larkin.

The logjam should be broken to protect the safety of those using Harriet Island Regional Park, Larkin said.

According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi crested Tuesday at 14.4 feet in downtown St. Paul, about half a foot over flood stage. That makes it St. Paul’s 18th-highest flood, Larkin said.

Meanwhile, the tangle of tree debris pushed against the Raspberry Island bridge continues to grow, drawing spectators. Trees also were piling up on the western tip of Raspberry Island and along the railroad bridge downstream where local barge company Upper River Services was seen Tuesday unclogging the mess.

“I haven’t seen anything like this since the ’60s, when there was a flood in ’65 and ’69,” said Dave Bartell, a resident who spotted the snarl from the Lafayette Bridge and stopped to take a closer look with his son Adam. “I’m curious how they’re going to break it up.”