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Painesville hopes erosion prevention project will protect historic neighborhood

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 19:11:43-04

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — The city of Painesville is racing against mother nature to protect one of its historic neighborhoods. A new project will target erosion along the banks of the Grand River to prevent the loss of infrastructure, utilities and century-old homes on Bank Street.

“The Grand River tends to move a lot so it does cause some problems along its way,” said Painesville City Engineer Leanne Exum.

Tuesday, the city announced a finalized partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers to stabilize a 325-foot stretch of the riverbank on Bank Street. A chain link fence and five feet of grass currently separate a steep slope from the road.

“We would probably lose that road and it would affect all those historic houses that live along that bank,” said Exum. “Our intent was to get this fixed to preserve the historic district of Bank Street.”

A century ago, there was enough land for homes to sit on the northeast side of the street. Erosion and sloughing gradually wore down the riverbank. In 2012, launched soil nails, a technique involving steel bars and mesh holding the slope face in position, provided a short-lived solution.

“In 2015, the soil nails failed and the old wood cribbage from the 1800s gave way. We lost a considerable amount of that hillside.” Exum explained.

The city engineer said an application for funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission was denied after the failure. In 2017, she wrote a letter of intent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the military agency entered into a Project Partnership Agreement in 2021.

After a feasibility study, USACE elected to build a retaining wall on a Bank Street block, situated between State Street and Walnut Avenue.

“The Corps project will install a steel sheet pile retaining wall to protect approximately 325 feet of the Bank Street in Painesville,” explained Marcy Werth, the USACE Project Manager.

The estimated $2.27 million contract was awarded to Nerone & Sons, Inc. based in Cleveland. Sixty-five percent of the costs will be covered by federal funds. Painesville will cover the remaining $794,500.

The city engineer said the project will protect critical public infrastructure and utilities, safeguard historic homes and mitigate negative water quality and local habitat effects that could result from the loss of surface soil.

During the project construction, traffic on Bank Street will be limited to local traffic. Signage will also be suspended over the Grand River to notify water users of the work and direct them to avoid potential safety hazards on the West Side of the river channel.

Because the project will take place in a historic district, extra care will be taken to limit vibration during construction.

“It is a historic location, so we’ll be watching for that. If he does see a certain level, they will stop work and adjust as necessary,” Werth explained.

Construction on the stabilization project is set to begin this month and wrap up in February 2023. The retaining wall is expected to provide long-term erosion protection for up to 50 years.

CLICK HERE to read more details about the project.

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