Additional testing needed to continue work on levee

Additional testing needed to continue work on levee

Image Credit: Lori Feeney

A second soil test is being conducted and an additional internal erosion interception trench is being built before work can continue on the Zoar Levee. Nathan White, archaeologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, updated stakeholders about progress on the levee in an online update meeting on March 31.

White said the new test will determine the proper cement mix — slurry — to be used as backfill in the construction of the IEIT. The trench is part of a system being installed by the corps, which includes relief wells and piping designed to prevent erosion and water seepage under the levee.

This is the second time around for testing the slurry mix after additional verification borings yielded the same results as the first test. According to White, the contractor removed soils from the site and performed mix design testing in the lab. However, results in the lab don’t always correlate to the field.

“They’ve gone back to the drawing board with the slurry, and they believe that they've come up with the right mix this time,” White said. “They're in the process of putting that in the ground now, and, of course, the production phase of the IEIT will not commence until they have approved that slurry.”

White said the contractor has made improvements to their methods based on the results of the original demonstration section to ensure the replacement demonstration section meets specifications.

According to White, additional work on the relief wells took place the week of March 28. New relief wells were installed in 2020 and 2021 to collect water seepage and convey it to a ponding area to relieve the build-up of pressure caused by underground water build-up in the aquifer.

Zoar is open for business

Historic Zoar Village and its museums officially opened for the season on April 2. White said the corps wants people to know Zoar is open for business and that people can visit with as few interruptions as possible.

“We won't be taking part in any activities that will make a lot of noise,” White said, when work coincides with the site’s hours. “We will be setting up a kiosk to explain to visitors what the fuss is all about.”

In order to stay on schedule, White said some weekend work will be necessary, but the corps will do its best not to conflict with events taking place in Zoar.

The repair work is in response to flood water leeching under the levee, which began during the flood of 2005, indicating the possibility of future levee failure.

While the official groundbreaking for the project took place in August 2020, work has been delayed due to the pandemic and the discovery of artifacts and anomalies during preconstruction work.

The fact that Zoar is a National Historic Landmark means extra time and care must be taken during every step of the construction process. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Section 106 requires that federally assisted projects consider possible effects on historic properties before work can begin.

In addition to the village’s historic museums, most of the homes were built in the 1800s, which also means extra care is required to avoid damage caused by vibrations from equipment.

The estimated $13 million project involves input and buy-in from a number of organizations including the National Park Service, Ohio History Connection, Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, Ohio Archaeological Council, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalitions, Seneca Nation of Indians and the Zoar Community Association.


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