Sunday, April 15, 2001

Ohio EPA allows runway

        CLEVELAND — The Ohio EPA has issued a waiver that will allow the city to go forward with plans to open a new runway at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

        The proposed 9,000-foot runway, which is intended to allow expanded flights at the city-owned airport, had faced delays getting environmental permits because of violations at prior Hopkins construction projects.

        The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a waiver Friday allowing the city to run a mile of a nearby creek through a pipe, fill in the ravine through which it runs and destroy surrounding wetlands.

        In an unusual step, rather than certify the plan as meeting the clean water guidelines, the Ohio EPA ruled that the social and economic benefits of an airport expansion outweighs the environmental damage.

        To compensate for the damage to the creek and wetlands, the city has agreed to spend millions of dollars on wetlands and streams in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Geauga and Medina counties.

        The city needs only a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start construction of the runway built over the filled-in ravine. Another runway would be lengthened to 11,250 feet over the ravine.

        The city promised to begin work the day after it gets the corps permit, in an effort to open the first 7,000 feet of the runway in June 2002.

        Mayor Michael White said in a statement that he is pleased with the decision.

        “We are also very cognizant of and committed to our proposal to mitigate the wetlands and make them whole by going beyond what is required of us,” he said.


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