City Continues Preparations For Riverside Drive Project

Feb 21, 2017

Cincinnati officials said Tuesday work is continuing on an emergency project to try and stop movement in the hillside along part of Riverside Drive in the East End. 

The city will build a 1,200 foot long retaining wall to address the problem.  The wall will be constructed on private property between Riverside Drive and a railroad line.  That area is between Hazen and Vance.

But the city needs permission from the property owners.  So far they have about 60 to 70 percent of those documents completed.  

Assistant City Manager Sheila Hill-Christian said actual work could start soon.

"This engineering contractor is ready to begin work as soon as all the right of entry documents have been executed with property owners," Hill-Christian said. "That process is moving quickly, and we hope to get work started by the end of the week."

The city manager announced the emergency project last week to protect water and sewer lines in the area.  Those water mains service large portions of Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

It is expected to cost between $5 and $10 million.  The funds will come from the Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

City officials would not offer specific reasons on why they believe the movement recently accelerated.

"We believe this is primarily just an act of nature," Black said during a press conference last week. "Are there other contributing factors? Most likely, but can we definitively say it's the weather, it's the railroad system, we cannot definitively say that."

Council Member Kevin Flynn wants more information on what is causing the hillside to move and potential liability.

"I agree that it has to be remediated right away and I think we need to do it," Flynn said. "But if it was caused because of construction activity for example, then there may be some geotechnical engineer liability, or contractor liability."

Residents near the hillside movement began complaining to city officials about damages last year.  Their complaints ranged from cracked sidewalks and driveways, to interior damage to basement walls and door frames.

City engineer Don Gindling said officials have been using inclinometers to monitor the hillside since 1991.

"In the past typically we got about a tenth-of-an-inch per year of movement on this hill and that was at a 40-foot level down where the rock hits the ground," Gindling said last week. "It was a slow creep. We were somewhat concerned but it was something that was manageable and wasn't that big of a deal."

Then in October, city officials noticed some damage to a sidewalk in front of property owned by the Verdin Bell Company.  The city then installed additional monitoring equipment.

"Between November and January we noticed considerable acceleration of movement,"
 Gindling said. "So instead of a tenth-of-an-inch per year we're now looking at several inches per month. So the movement is very accelerated."

Even after the retaining wall is built, city officials will continue monitoring.  And additional work could be necessary.