Cleveland Breakwater Critical to the Harbor

Off the shores of Cleveland Harbor, rising out of Lake Erie like a wave of concrete and stones, sits the Cleveland Breakwater offering 24,570 feet of safe navigation and protection for the harbor.

The first pieces of the breakwater were built in 1827. Over the years, Lake Erie ice and wave action has put the structure to the test, but annual operation and maintenance has helped it to function as it was designed.

It was not until Hurricane Sandy, October 2012, that Mother Nature proved too much for the structure and the breakwater sustained a significant amount of damage. After Sandy the breakwater was evaluated to determine just how much work would be need to repair the structure.

Evaluations of the structure showed that sections of the Cleveland East Breakwater and Cleveland East & West Arrowhead Breakwaters would need to be repaired. In total, $35.4 million in Sandy and $1.2 million of O&M funding would be used to complete the repairs.

Work on the East Breakwater began in 2014, where $1.2 million in O&M and $6.3 million of Sandy funding was authorized to repair 2,660 linear feet. Repairs using set stone are scheduled to be completed in early 2015 by Great Lakes Dock & Materials L.L.C., Muskegon, MI.

The most eastern portion of the East Breakwater sustained the most severe impact from the storm. A more robust design for the repair was implemented using precast, 6.5 ton geometric concrete blocks known as dolosse.

The East Breakwater repair using dolosse is set to begin in July 2015 and finish at the end of the construction season 2016.


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