The study recommended a much more expensive solution.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- A Navarre man with an amphibious backhoe may be Trumbull County's best chance to fix drainage problems at General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant.
In any case, he is the cheapest.
Trumbull County Commissioners will pay Michael Wagner of Navarre $5,400 Tuesday to clear a trench through a county-owned swamp adjacent to the GM factory.
The price could go as high as $13,600 if Wagner has to bring in his big gun: a backhoe, on pontoons, which floats.
Costlier plan: A study contracted by the county laid out another plan for fixing GM's overflow problems, but that plan would have cost $125,000 to $175,000. It included dredging an adjoining swamp and adding a sediment basin and access road.
"We just thought it was overkill," said Gary Newbrough, director of the county planning commission.
For weeks, GM has been after the county to fix an occasional drainage problem plaguing the plant. After a heavy rain, water backs up onto the floor of a garage and in the final processing area, said Tom Mock, a plant spokesman. The problem has halted production once in the last five years, he said.
Studied problem: County commissioners paid Earthsource, an Indiana-based engineering firm, $5,200 to study the problem. Their conclusion, delivered July 5: The water backup was caused by sediment clogging up the swamp where two 1,200-foot-by-250-foot water retention ponds owned by GM are supposed to drain, Newbrough said.
Sediment, caused in part by the construction of a I-80 highway ramp, also clogged drainage channels on GM's property, Newbrough said.
Wagner's name first came up at a meeting between officials from the planning commission, the county engineer's office, and General Motors, Newbrough said. Someone from the engineer's office had come across his site on the Internet.
Wagner plans to dig a 12-foot-wide channel down the entire length of the 1,100-foot-long swamp, first using a backhoe with tank treads four feet wide. If that machine gets stuck, a second, larger backhoe on pontoons will be brought in, Newbrough said.
After a visit to the site, Wagner said he could do the job in 24 working hours.