November 20, 2014


Lorain’s $65 million sewer project designed to stop flooding woes

LORAIN — Community leaders had a unique view of the city — about 180 feet underground — on Wednesday.

A glance at the progress of the Black River Tunnel project required an elevator descent into the 180-foot shaft off Broadway and West 14th Street for Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, Safety Service Director Robert Fowler and others who participated in the tour.

The $65 million tunnel project, which began March 2012, is designed to hold 12 million gallons of sewer water until it can be transferred to a sewer treatment plant. The city approved the project due to administrative orders of the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate overflows because previously sewer water would flood basements and flow into Lake Erie during heavy rainfall.

Daniel Markowitz, principal scientist and certified project manager for ARCADIS, the international engineering company overseeing the project, said the tunnel should eliminate sewer overflows in the city when finished.

“What you’ll get is a cleaner river, a safer river,” he said.

The drain project, scheduled to be done in 2015, is designed to hold 12 million gallons of water. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

The drain project, scheduled to be done in 2015, is designed to hold 12 million gallons of water. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ARCADIS, along with Walsh/Super Excavators Joint Venture, discussed the progress of the Black River Tunnel, which is nearing completion of drilling.

Gregg Rehak, vice president of tunneling for Super Excavators, estimated that about six more months of drilling is needed until the next portion of the project can begin. After drilling through another mile of shale underneath the city, workers can begin pouring a concrete liner into the tunnel.

Plans are to have the tunnel fully operational by August 2015.

When completed, the tunnel will extend about 5,600 feet from the drop shaft near the intersection of First Street and Broadway, across from City Hall, to the pump station near the Black River Wharf boat launch. The existing collection system near Broadway and Black River Lane will be updated so that wet weather flow is diverted to the tunnel.

Rehak said drilling work is under way with a tunnel boring machine, which is operated by one person and a computer. A cutter head completes about four rotations each minute to drill into the rock below the ground’s surface.

Brad Barnes, project engineer, shows the controls inside the operator's cab.

Brad Barnes, project engineer, shows the controls inside the operator’s cab.

The cutter head weighs about 230,000 pounds, so moving the machinery below ground in pieces was challenging, according to Rehak. Employees also had to drill 200 feet of the tunnel by hand.

Scot Pearson, senior resident engineer for ARCADIS, praised the work of the employees, who have been working to complete the tunnel by the goal date.

“They’ve been doing a good job. They’ve been working long hours,” he said.

Pearson said the Black River Tunnel project is referred to as Phase 1, but it is unclear whether the city will continue with other updates to its sewage system, which could take some time to complete.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • GreatRedeemer

    I love it. EPA says clean up your act, loans city millions of dollars, city passes costs on to customers without a vote. Ahh America

    • Zen Grouch

      Once the EPA orders a city to act on a certain situation, I doubt the city can then schedule a vote to decide if they want to follow a lawful order or not.

  • Phil Blank

    According to the Journal, they will dump it right back into the Black River.

    From the third sentence in the article: “”The tunnel is being built to hold up to 12 million gallons of sewage that will be discharged into the Black River during heavy rain storms”".
    If that is true, what is the point of having the money spent and the tunnel dug?

    • Zen Grouch

      That wasn’t a very clear description of how the tunnel will function…

      I wonder if the author was trying to say the tunnel will remove sewage from the Black River that was flushed into the river during heavy rains? If so, I wonder how they go about doing that. Maybe siphon sewage from the surface?

  • stop ur whining

    the designed sewer project willl not help lorain’s real problem. Lorain has become a rotting shell of it’s former self. clean out all the criminals, drugs, and no producers and then fix the problems. they are trying to get rid or the wrong “sewage”

    • ken

      this project is going to help! why is everybody so negative? listen to your scanners Elyria is much worse than Lorain they just don’t print it all in the paper. gotta give Lorain credit they are really fixing up their city. keep up the good work Lorain!

      • stop ur whining

        i never said the project wasn’t going to help. just that this is step 8 when lorain is stuck on step 1. Lorain and Elyria are now the same, i will agree there. but elyria got bad bc lorain spilled over. Lorain is ground ZERO. fix the sewers sure, but after you take out the garbage

        • ken

          take a look at what Lorain is doing to make a nicer city.(port fest, Lakeview) what has Elyria done? Elyria is the litter bug capitol of Ohio!

          • stop ur whining

            do not take credit for lakeview. it wasn’t until the metro parks took it over that it changed from a place to shoot up into a park. the port fest although nice was nothing more than a field that was devolved into a few nice pavilions and some sidewalks and is what, less than 1% of lorain? Elyria has turned over a park to the metorparks too, built a new high school, has the only remaining catholic high school in the county, has LCCC. face it, although elyira is on the downside it is only half way down the mountain, Lorain is already at the bottom and is trying to tug it down.

  • stop ur whining

    hey ken, lets start a poll…thumbs up if you would rather live in elyria, thumbs down if you would rather live in lorain. i personally would choose option “c” none of the above, but if i had to choose it would be a no brainer…ELYRIA all the way

    • ken

      first of all if your poll is in the chronicle it’s gonna be Elyria, in the journal it will be lorain….DUH!! more people in Lorain take pride in their city, Like keeping up with their property, cutting grass. NOT LITTERING! Elyria slums are SLUMS! also the metro parks thought it was worth it to help a deserving city!

      • stop ur whining

        and the metro parks did the same for elyria with cascade. and you really really wanna talk about slums. i’d rethink that seriously. think about that.

        • ken

          LOL you couldn’t walk through cascade in the day time!

          • Bill

            Do it all the time. Even take my daughter there and up around the old bear cage and over to the falls. Never a problem.

          • stop ur whining

            actually done it often. it is in far better shape than lakeview when the metro parks took it over. drug needles, garbage, bums on benches. seen all of that at lakeview. and btw, the metro parks didn’t take over lakeview bc they saw at as an investment in lorain. the took it over for the same reason they did cascade. the cities asked them to bc they could no longer adequately care for it. face it, lorain is much worse than elyria

          • ken

            I was born in Elyria, I have lived in Elyria all my life and I can see the difference. ELYRIA SUCKS COMPARED TO LORAIN! the people in Elyria are lazy litter bugs. people in Lorain have pride

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