Calling all Engineers and Construction Professionals: Cincyopolis needs help.

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People tell me their secrets. But I can’t use the vast majority of them  because people who talk to me off the record have to be concerned about their professional futures – whether or not they are going to be able to earn a living if they tell the public what they know.  Or else I can’t verify the information from other sources.  Most of the stuff I pick-up stays quietly tucked away in that part of my brain dedicated to rumors and other weird puzzles.

But when the rumors pile up and turn into a pattern, I get very, very nervous – like I have to say something.  The subset of city residents that follows Cincyopolis is one of the most educated, sophisticated, intelligent groups of wonky-nerds I’ve ever virtually met.  Since I am not an engineer, I don’t know what else to do but put this question out to the broader community.

Within the last month I’ve gotten 4 or 5 indications that there’s something we don’t know about the repair of the Lytle Park/ODOT tunnel project.  Here’s a sampling of the written comments:

  • Kathy, I would suggest all follow the money to its original source. The 2-year long “repair” of the I 71 Tunnel is completely over-engineered. Huge slabs of multiple layers of steel reinforced concrete in the park may be the precursor to a new high-rise building to soon be built by Western Southern on the current site of their 550 Building and garage, between 4th and 5th. Note that the 550 Building is “whited-out” in the photo attached ! When the current building was constructed 45 years ago, it was limited in size by its weight !
  • There is so much reinforced concrete in that hole and will be so much more that one of the construction guys told me that “they could build anything here”. Also….why is this taking 2 years? If it’s simply to reseal and revent the tunnel.
  • A totally second layer of roofing over the tunnel with enough re-bar and concrete to support a highway, much more than is needed to support trees and a walking path.”

On the other side of the “Is this possible?” equation, another well-informed reader had this to say:

  • It’s more than that (the tunnel is getting all new lighting and tile work since both are in a sad state of disrepair) and requires working around an operating interstate tunnel that is a hazardous material route (meaning much stricter working conditions) and includes the introduction of a fire detection system along with additional cameras and is the complete removal of the old ventilation system and moving of the ventilation system to remove the need in the future for tearing up the park when repair work needs to be done by providing better access to the mechanical systems from ground level. I’m not sure where the tone of conspiracy is coming from.
I don’t know what to think.   I’ve submitted a public records request to the Ohio Department of
Transportation for all documents pertinent to this project. But I’m not an engineer.  So I’m asking
the Cincyopolis community, do these concerns have any merit?

5 thoughts on “Calling all Engineers and Construction Professionals: Cincyopolis needs help.

  1. Pamela Zelman

    I was just discussing this with my husband, and he said two interesting things: 1) The Lytle Tunnel was one of the first interstate tunnels built, and thus has no modern safety equipment. Fixing that problem alone is a big deal. 2) W&S removed the 550 building from the historic district because they’ve always been clear that they intend to replace it.

    So…..the answer to all that concrete is probably both — fixing the tunnel is a big project, and W&S intends to build a big building. And because they are W&S, they will probably find a way around zoning codes or design appropriateness/neighborhood scale.

  2. executivedreamer Post author

    What this question points out is the public’s need for more education. We want to know more about how our money is being spent and have a basic understanding of the considerations in big construction projects such as the tunnel. I have had some guidance step forward. Several people in the building biz tell me that there is no cause for paranoia here. I’ll look at the latest revised set of plans and specs and I’ll try to make sense of them for all of us in writing. Let’s learn.

  3. executivedreamer Post author

    The 550 Building is the red brick, post-modern apartment building on the east side of the Phelps across the street from my condo, Park Place at Lytle. It’s 4 stories tall. — Western & Southern built it right after the 1-71 tunnel went in in the late 60s.

  4. Pingback: The Lytle Park Mystery Hole | cincyopolis

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