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Price tag for Gorge Dam removal is expected to exceed estimates

picture of gorge dam
Removing the massive concrete structure is only around 20% of the total cost of the project. The biggest expense is disposing of a century's worth of contaminated sediment.

Plans to remove the century-old Gorge Dam on the Cuyahoga River are moving forward.

Summit Metroparks held an information session this week to review details.

Project coordinator Elaine Marsh says ongoing engineering studies will determine how draining the lake behind the dam will affect surrounding infrastructure.

She says engineers are focusing on the Front Street bridge and the site of the razed Ohio Edison power plant, and how "they might be impacted by the change in hydrology and elevation of the water."

And she says all of that is adding to the project's price tag.

“Certainly there would be an increased cost related to any of those issues.”

Marsh says the final cost of the project could be substantially higher than the $70 million estimate provided in 2015 by the Cleveland-based engineering firm Tetra Tech.

She says they'll have a better idea of the final cost later this year once the engineering studies are completed.

The City of Akron recently hired local engineering firm CPD Associates to finalize plans for taking down the dam.

The US EPA will pay 65% of the most expensive item, removing a century’s worth of contaminated sediment behind the dam, which is 80% of the entire price tag.

Marsh says all of the funding needs to be in place by 2025 in order to meet the EPA’s deadline for restoring the Cuyahoga to a “fishable, swimmable river.”

Jeff is your average chemist turned radio host and reporter. He currently hosts middays on WKSU and has reported extensively on science, politics, business, and the environment.