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Published: Saturday, 9/25/2004

Landfill fixes will close Berdan exit from N. I-75

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, the Berdan Avenue exit from northbound I-75 will be closed while concrete retaining walls are built along the north bank of the Ottawa River. The ramp must be closed so it can be occupied by a large crane that will lift wall sections into position, project officials said.

The ramp will reopen at 3 p.m. Friday, but then close again at 7 a.m. Oct. 4 and remain closed until the afternoon of Oct. 8, said Patricia Beaujon, the project manager for DaimlerChrysler.

Under a consent agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, DaimlerChrysler is capping the former landfill by adding two feet of clean soil to its top and stabilizing the Ottawa River's banks with retaining walls. The automaker will plant trees and tall grasses near the river to slow and treat the flow of any contaminated liquid that might be leaching from the waste buried there.

From sometime before 1941 until the landfill's closing in 1970, the previous operators of what is now DaimlerChrysler's Jeep Parkway plant dumped spent solvents, degreasers, and paint sludge on the 16-acre plot that earlier was a Willys Motor Co. test track. Site studies conducted between 1995 and 1997 determined that the landfill was suitable for certain reuses, including conversion to a recreation area, as long as it was protected and stabilized.

"We're very close now" to being finished with the project, Ms. Beaujon said yesterday. Retaining walls for the Ottawa's south bank have been built in the last two weeks, and all other work, except for the grass and tree planting, has been finished.

The park will not have any "active" recreation facilities such as ball fields, but will have lawns and walking trails.

The park area will be on the north side of I-75, while the Ottawa was rechanneled along the south side when the freeway was built during the early 1970s. The riverbank improvements are being made to reduce the risk that waste from the landfill might otherwise pose to people who canoe in the river, said David Leffler, an administrator with the city's solid waste division.

Ms. Beaujon declined to say how much the landfill mitigation has cost DaimlerChrysler. But she said that, in addition to that work, the company has provided $250,000 for park improvements from its charitable foundation. The Ohio EPA estimated in 1999 that the mitigation would cost about $537,000.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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