Wednesday, March 03, 1999

Stadium sewer work a waste

Rerouted line must be replaced

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In a rush to save money, taxpayers are out $620,000.

        Last summer, construction crews rerouted a sewer line that would have run through the middle of Paul Brown Stadium. They were under the gun — facing a fine of $6 million per football game if their work prevented the Bengals' new stadium from opening by August 2000.

        Now, the rerouted $620,000 line must be dug up and replaced with a larger pipe at a cost of $385,000.

        In the time since the original rerouting, a plan to replace sewer lines along a larger portion of the downtown riverfront developed.

        The problem: The pipes were incompatible.

        The rerouted pipe was 60 inches in diameter. The riverfront project calls for pipes 96 inches in diameter.

        The difference, said Metro politan Sewer District (MSD) spokesman Dennis Madden, could cause sewage to back up into basements.

        Larger pipes are needed along the riverfront to dramatically reduce the number of times sewage spills into the Ohio River, he said. MSD estimates the $8 million project will cut overflows from 64 to about six annually.

        “We're not happy about it, but we think we have a better product,” Mr. Madden said.

        Also, he said, this is the cheapest way to replace a sewer system because the central riverfront is already torn up for Fort Washington Way reconstruction. To go back after that construction is done would cost $25 million to $30 million, he said. And that's not figuring in inflation.

        “It's very unfortunate that we had to put something in and later take it out,” said John Deatrick, Cincinnati's project engineer. “But it's kind of the price of progress. We had to do it to keep the Bengals' stadium moving.”

        According to the MSD, here's how the events unfolded:

        • In late 1997, contracts were signed to relocate the sewer line that would have run through the middle of Paul Brown Stadium. A 66-inch pipe was run up Central Avenue between Pete Rose Way and Third streets; a 60-inch pipe was run along Third Street between Central Avenue and Elm Street.

        • In May 1998, Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls asked that the city and county look at sewers on the entire riverfront.

        • In June 1998, MSD asked the county to hold off rerouting the stadium pipe.

        • In July 1998, the idea of a box culvert between the north Fort Washington Way retaining wall and Third Street emerged. It was a concept without funding. In mid-July, the county said it must go ahead with the original sewer work because of the $6 million construction penalty clause and because it was unclear whether the plan for new sewers on the central riverfront would come together.

        • In August 1998, the sewer pipe diversion around the stadium was completed.

        • On Sept. 2, 1998, plans were presented for the 96-inch pipe along the central riverfront. MSD requested a computer models test to see how it would work with the 60-inch pipe.

        • On Sept. 30, 1998, the computer model showed the pipes were too different in diameter and could cause sewer backups into basements. MSD learned it would have to replace the 60-inch line.


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