curbs on the Cuyahoga River
By John C. Kuehner
The Plain Dealer
Published November 11, 2006
Planners want to launch a project that will explore whether
fish and ore boats can coexist on the Cuyahoga River.
What they want to create is a stream bank that offers
habitat for fish migrating from Lake Erie to spawning
areas upriver while also allowing for ship movement.
But the vision goes beyond just helping restore the health
of the Cuyahoga River.
What planners hope to design is a new generation of inexpensive
stream-bank curbs that can be manufactured in the Cuyahoga
Valley and create jobs here.
A successful product then could be sold to other Great
Lakes port cities that face the same problems of protecting
local industrial ship traffic and helping fish, said Jim
White, who heads the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan,
which will lead the design and development process.
"Given the cost of replacing bulkheads, it's a several
hundred million, if not a $1 billion, marketplace,"
The Cuyahoga River alone has 11 miles of bulkheads that
line both sides of the stream bank from Lake Erie to the
Mittal Steel USA Cleveland plant to a depth of about 22
And many of these aging bulkheads are failing, which
causes the river bank to erode into the river. Ignoring
the problem "will result in catastrophic failure
and potential closing of the river," according of
the Flats Oxbow Association, which represents industrial
and business interests in the Flats.
It's estimated it would cost $300 million to replace
the river's steel and wood bulkheads.
Those bulkheads were built in the 1930s.
The bill must be paid by the riverfront landowner.
Earlier this year, the federal government awarded $500,000
to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a bulkhead prototype
The Corps is in the final stages of negotiations to release
the money to local planners, White said.
Once the money is available, which could be later this
month, White said a group of materials specialists, local
engineers, manufacturers and installers will design the
He hopes to have three different prototypes that will
be tested at three different points in the river.
These "green bulkheads" would have open slots
that create pockets behind them where plants can grow
and fish could feed and find refuge as they swim to and
from Lake Erie.
One proposed idea is to build a troughlike molded concrete
structure using surplus slag from Mittal Steel, which
is working with planners on the project and could host
one of the prototypes.
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