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Government


The city of Akron will train truckers for sewer construction work
The city is trying to guarantee local people get jobs in a massive project; the first class of 48 will be trained for commercial drivers licenses
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Senior Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
Akron has already spent $300 million to cap combined sewer overflows. The mayor says the city had zero water quality violations last year.
Courtesy of MARK URYCKI
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The city of Akron is about to send out bid applications for one of the largest construction projects in the city’s history. The mayor is trying to ensure that city residents are hired to do some of the work.
LISTEN: Trying to guarantee local jobs

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Akron is looking at an $870 million project to rebuild the city’s sewers to eliminate the escape of untreated sewage through combined sewer overflows. A big part of that will be digging 20-foot-wide tunnels to store sewage, as Cuyahoga County is doing.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic says truck drivers to haul the dirt are in short supply, so the city will train residents for free to obtain commercial driver’s licenses or CDL’s.  To ensure they get work, the city will hire them. 

“This one specifically is for drivers to get their CDL licenses. So they can work with us in the winter time for snow removal and then be ready to be hired by us, as City of Akron employees, to do the simple job of trucking the dirt out of the tunnel.”

The state Legislature has outlawed residency requirements that cities once had, but Plusquellic believes by carving the trucking job out of the overall sewer work, the city can ensure that local people get the jobs, even if the contractor is from out of state.

"If our residents are working, they’re spending their money here.  They’re doing things that probably turn over seven times in the community. And that’s a lot better than giving out-of-town people who show up in a pickup truck, six of them, who all stay in the same hotel room, from Michigan.”

The city position as a truck driver may not be a permanent job, but the sewer project is expected to take more than a decade to complete.     

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