Akron Prepares to Begin Big Dig, Hoping for Smaller Dig

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The Trump administration has been backing off environmental regulations and threating to cut the EPA budget.  But Akron officials continue working to fulfill the terms of their consent decree with the U-S EPA that is expected to cost one-point-four billion dollars.  Ideastream Mark Urycki reports . .



Like Cuyahoga County’s sewage system, Akron has to capture all of its sewage overflows during heavy rainstorms in 3 giant tunnels so it can treat the water later.  The biggest one, 6200 feet long will be drilled under the city’s downtown.  ~Ambience-   Workers fired up the 30 foot diameter boring machine – nicknamed “Rosie” -- and Mayor Dan Horrigan got to climb aboard and ask questions..




So does the change in Washington mean the end of the consent decree?


“No,” says Horrigan.   “It’s a continued negotiation for us on a weekly -to propose different projects and see if they can be swapped out.  So we’ve got no indication either way.  We continue to look to them.  They’re federal partners in all this.  We never shied away from the commitment to say ‘listen we need to do this.’    How do we do it in the most cost effective way and the most affordable way.” 

Mayor Dan Horrigan sits where the operator will control the boring machine for a 10 hour shift. 

So are they committed to tunnels 2 & 3?


“No, that’s the whole point. We’re trying to get out of the other two.   There’s an affordability factor to it number 1.  And number 2, it’s gathering data on how much we’ve been able to take out of the river so far.”  


The city has been building surface catch basins that also capture sewage overflow.  Horrigan says those may be enough.    Akron is also building some green projects that filter stormwater in hopes of meeting EPA demands. 


Today workers from the Robbins Company fired up the giant tunnel boring machine for a test in Solon.  It will be disassembled and trucked to Akron in three weeks.  The 300-yard-long tunnel boring rig will begin digging in August, moving at a rate of 5 feet every 90 minutes.  

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