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Opinion

What pipes!

1/17/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

The city of Akron may build a mile-long sewer tunnel to solve its overflow problem. If it comes to be, it will be built 150 feet underground and be 27 feet in diameter, slightly wider if they decide to add a bicycle lane.

As soon as I heard the news, my thoughts turned to the movie “Les Misérables.” Sewers play a big role in “Les Miz” for reasons I’d rather not discuss because of a) spoilers and b) spoilage. Well, not just spoilage but lots of other gross sewer stuff as well. Suffice it to say, the day the sewer scene was shot was probably not a favorite of star Hugh Jackman or of his dry cleaner.

So, in the highly unlikely event of a “Les Misérables II,” could the cast and crew use our fancy new sewer tunnel for a location shoot? Not so fast.

While the city and the Environmental Protection Agency have signed off on the tunnel, it still hasn’t received the blessing of U.S. District Judge John Adams. Adams, who I presume is not the same guy who beats the bass drum at Indians games, is the judge making sure Akron is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. So far, he’s been a tough cookie. The last overflow plan did not pass muster, nor did an earlier plan that was more “outside the box.” (That idea was to pay a wizard to take care of the sewer runoff, “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” style, with a “platinum squeegee.”)

The tunnel is to become operational Dec. 31, 2018. What this means — other than the button for that evening’s First Night celebration could be really unique — is there’s no time to lose. Many questions need to be answered, such as …

What to call it? We could make a crude joke about the sewer tunnel, but that would be beneath us, literally. Let’s just go with “Sludgeton Abbey.”

Where will it be located and will drivers be affected?

From West Exchange to Memorial Parkway. As most of the work will be done underground, we surface dwellers will be minimally inconvenienced. Heaven help the Mole People, however.

What of the conspiracy theorists who say the area was chosen because of its rich mineral deposits?

No comment, except to note that it’s not called the Diamond Grille for nothin’.

How does one build a massive underground hole? You need highly skilled workers and large boring machines. Or the chipmunks in my dad’s flower garden.

Will we be able to smell the sewage from up here? Hopefully not. If it turns out we can smell the stench, maybe the folks who manufacture the ODOT sound walls can construct some smell walls, too.

What is this going to mean to our water bills?

As they would say in France, “Prepare to dig deep, mon sewer.”

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