eNewsletter: November 2012

William D. Friedman
President & CEO

Our Port is undergoing an important and exciting transformation. We are focused on our core maritime mission, while taking on important work to sustain and renew the Cuyahoga River ship channel, create new pedestrian connections to our downtown lakefront and river, and manage a unique urban nature preserve. 

Before embarking on our new strategic direction last year, we conducted a survey that indicated our plan is well aligned with community priorities. Today, as I travel around Cuyahoga County and meet with a broad range of people, I am gratified by the enthusiastic response I see for our current and proposed work. 

The stories in this issue exemplify the range of ways the Port is working to support job growth and economic vitality. They also span the length of the Cuyahoga River ship channel main stem, from the Flats East Bank mixed-use project, for which the Port issued nearly $137 million in bond financing, to the ArcelorMittal Cleveland steel complex, which employs more than 1,800 workers and needs a well-maintained ship channel to transport iron ore. And along the channel, the Port is leading the development of innovative ways to manage and beneficially use the sediment that’s dredged annually to keep the river open for business.  

More than half the dollars in our levy proposal – Issue 108 on this month’s countywide ballot – would be directed to projects that safeguard the ship channel for the companies, workers, and recreational users who depend on it. Those projects include development of a sustainable program for managing sediment, repairing bulkheads that line the channel, and fixing the 31-acre riverfront hillside that is slowly sliding into the river and threatening the channel. Other proposed projects include increasing public access to the lakefront, making market-driven investments in Port facilities, and improving a key stretch of roadway for trucks and pedestrians on the west side of the Flats. The cost of our proposed five-year levy to the owner of a $100,000 home in the county would be about $20 a year or $1.65 a month. 

We will continue our outreach efforts and ask you to help us expand our communications network by forwarding this eNewsletter, following us on Twitter (@portofcleveland), liking us on Facebook (facebook.com/ThePortofCleveland), visiting our revised website (www.portofcleveland.com), and joining our online conversation on The Civic Commons (theciviccommons.com).  

We are energized by the momentum around the community and our new initiatives at the Port. As always, please contact me with any questions or comments.

Did You Know?

  • Flotsam & Jetsam, the Port’s two boats that are removing floating debris from Cleveland Harbor, survived the Hurricane Sandy damage. They now are joining local storm cleanup efforts and will be working in Edgewater Marina removing the chunks of destroyed boats that are floating on the water.
  • Last month the Port won an environmental enhancement award from the American Association of Port Authorities for opening and managing the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, a unique 88-acre site on Lake Erie near downtown Cleveland.





On the Docks

Making Steel in the Cuyahoga Valley  

Steelmaking has long been part of the arc of Cleveland’s history. Today the city is home to the most productive integrated steel facility in the world: ArcelorMittal Cleveland, where 1,800 workers manufacture steel in a process steeped in tradition and controlled with high-tech precision. 

With a blast furnace that reaches temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, giant rollers that flatten steel as thin as 1/16th of an inch, and dozens of computers that track the process from start to finish, the ArcelorMittal workers produce almost a ton of steel per worker hour. And that efficiency is what gives this complex along the Cuyahoga River international bragging rights. 

In a way, the process of making steel in Cleveland begins in places such as Silver Bay, Minnesota, where iron ore is mined and then loaded on freighters that ply the Great Lakes, navigate the crooked Cuyahoga, and deposit thousands of tons of marble-sized pellets at ArcelorMittal’s riverfront yard, 5.5 miles upriver from Lake Erie. 

Like most integrated steel facilities, the complex was built along the water because iron ore had to be transported by ship. 

And today ArcelorMittal and its workers – most of them members of the United Steelworkers of America – continue to depend on waterborne transportation to move the millions of tons of iron ore needed annually. Nick Pugliese, raw materials manager, methodically tracks the supply and demand, working with freighter schedulers and shift managers to keep a 100-day supply of iron ore (about 1.1 million tons) close at hand to ensure non-stop production, even during the winter months after one shipping season ends and the new one has yet to begin.    

Steelmaking begins when ore from the yard is combined with limestone and coke (created when coal is baked for hours) and loaded into railroad cars that workers guide up a 300-foot high bridge. Once at the top of the bridge the cars are positioned over the top of the blast furnace and their contents dropped into a giant hopper. The scene is rooted in both the past and present. Ray Petz, the raw materials process manager, has spent nearly 40 years making iron and steel, and watching the process evolve. “There are a lot more computers involved now,” he said, “but the ingredients to the recipe are still basically the same.” 

Once inside the blast furnace, the iron ore is “smelted,” or melted down and purified in a chemical reaction fueled by air and coke.  The limestone removes impurities that rise from the melted iron ore as “slag,” a byproduct later sold for use in cement, concrete and other construction materials. The entire process is monitored on computer screens by workers including 40-year veteran Fareed Hakeem, a senior operating technician. “There is no guesswork to what goes into the furnace and how long it stays in,” he said.  “Everything is mapped out down to the minute and the pound.” 

Now purified, the molten iron is drawn by gravity to the bottom of the furnace. When enough accumulates, a tap hole that had been plugged with clay is opened to allow the molten iron to escape and run down a refractory-lined trench into rail cars that resemble large torpedoes on wheels with holes cut into the top.  As these “bottle cars” leave the blast furnace, traveling along a portion of the complex’s 71-mile short-line railroad system, they glow a bright orange. Their destination: the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF), where iron becomes steel. 

At the BOF, the bottle cars are rotated so that their contents flow into ladles, which then deposit the molten iron into the furnace, where scrap steel is added and pure oxygen is blown in to reduce the carbon content and remove contaminants. What results is pure, molten steel, which is then poured into another ladle for transport to the continuous caster, where the steel flows into water-cooled copper molds. The steel begins to solidify into a long rectangular shape, and at the bottom of the molding machine, the steel emerges and is cut by operators into individual slabs, each marked with a designated identification number. 

The slabs then move by rail to the hot strip mill, a half-mile-long building where steel is reheated to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit in a special furnace. The 9-inch thick, red-hot slabs are then rolled through a series of mills that reduce and flatten the slab down to a much thinner strip, anywhere from ¾” to 1/16” in thickness. As the steel moves along the hot strip mill’s rollers, it picks up speed, eventually moving at 36 miles an hour. The heat from the process can be felt 30 yards away. “Little bit warm?” joked Debbie Thomas-Ward who worked in the complex for 25 years and now gives tours as a retiree. 

Still about 1,200 degrees, the strip of steel is then coiled up and moved into storage for cooling until it is ready to be shipped to a customer or to another department for further processing. 

Depending on a customer’s order, the steel coil may move to a final finishing facility where workers roll and treat coils to meet customer specifications, eliminate blemishes, alter the steel’s flexibility, and/or coat it with protective finishes. At the facility’s world-class Hot Dip Galvanizing Line, for example, the long coil of steel is unwound and dipped into a pot of liquid zinc, giving the steel an anti-corrosive coating. When completed, the numbered coils, weighing an average of 22 tons each, are placed in a series of rows to await shipment to companies that will continue the process of transformation by turning the steel coils into new cars, appliances, or other consumer goods.   

This is the second in a three-part series. Please visit: www.portofcleveland.com/on-the-docks-4 to read the first part. Next month we will follow the steel to the customer to see what it becomes next.

  • On the Docks
On the Docks


Along the Water

Using sediment from the Cuyahoga River to benefit the community

Enough sediment is dredged from the Cuyahoga River annually to fill a major league baseball stadium 30-feet deep. Today that sediment is largely treated as waste and placed in lakefront landfills. But what if that material were instead treated as a resource and used in cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to benefit the community? That’s just what the Port and its partners aim to do. 

Sediment now placed in lakefront landfills known as Confined Disposal Facilities (CDFs) could be used to cap brownfields, create aquatic and upland wildlife habitats, nourish beaches, combine with other material for roadway construction, or fill the basements of demolished houses. 

Because the opportunities are encouraging and the result could benefit the community on several levels, the Port is exploring options in collaboration with other organizations. 

“Ohio EPA supports the beneficial use of clean, dredged sediment,” said Kurt Princic, Ohio EPA’s Northeast District Chief. “With limited capacity in the CDFs, we’re encouraged this could provide a sustainable, long-term solution.” 

Sediment – a combination of sand and gravel – is carried in a constant flow of water into a 5.5 mile stretch of the Cuyahoga River ship channel from both the river and its tributaries. If left untouched, this sediment would settle like a giant sandbar, diminishing the depth of the ship channel from its current 23 feet to roughly four feet in just a few years time. That’s far too shallow for many recreational boats, not to mention the freighters bringing raw materials and goods to companies dependent on waterborne transportation. It would also put the Flats district at risk of frequent flooding. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for dredging the ship channel.  Over several decades, it has placed dredged sediment in CDFs rather than Lake Erie’s open water, mainly because of latent contamination and polluted sediment. Now, the Cuyahoga River’s continuing environmental comeback, combined with creative thinking, has opened intriguing possibilities to use that material in productive ways. 

Use of sediment would benefit the environment and lead to tens of millions of dollars in tax savings by avoiding construction by the Corps of a new CDF. In addition, the Port will  partner with the Corps to launch new cost-effective and sustainable management methods. Under that approach the CDFs would continue to be used for storage, but could also be operated as centers for the distribution and recycling of sediment.

Before creating a pathway  for sediment use, the Port needs to analyze the composition and quality of sediment along different sections of the river.  It’s been doing that work in partnership with The University of Akron, the Corps, and  Ohio EPA, which must approve any new uses of sediment.  “Results  indicate much of the sediment is clean enough to use as fill at industrial and commercial properties, and there is potential for it to be used in residential as well,” said Princic of the Ohio EPA. 

Princic pointed to a 2010 brownfield remediation project that demonstrated the potential for using sediment for commercial purposes. For that project – the redevelopment of a 58-acre site into the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Park – more than a year’s worth of sediment was used to cover the brownfield. Now the aim is to expand the model to residential uses. 

The Port has spoken with the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. – commonly known as the county land bank – about the prospect of using sediment as fill in basements of foreclosed homes that require demolition. 

“The prospect of working with the Port to secure clean fill is an excellent potential collaboration for the land bank,” said Gus Frangos, the organization’s president.  “It promotes cost efficiency on a number of levels, and if we can guarantee that it’s clean enough, it really becomes a no-brainer for both of us.” 

The land bank plans to demolish between 1,500 and 2,000 homes annually for the foreseeable future, requiring tens of thousands of cubic yards of soil for infill. “We have a huge need, and this could be a major opportunity,” Frangos said. 

The Port is also examining the possibility of placing a collection device on the riverbed to intercept heavier sediment, known as bedload, so that it doesn’t end up in the ship channel in the first place. 

A preliminary study done in 2010 indicated that up to 50,000 cubic yards of bedload could be collected annually, reducing dredging requirements and the associated costs, according to Jim White, the Port’s Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Programs. 

“The math suggests there could be more than $800,000 in cost savings annually,” White said. That’s because dredging one cubic  yard of sediment is almost nine times more expensive than intercepting it. 

Bedload also offers the best potential for use in residential areas because it can be collected before entering the ship channel, where it may become contaminated by sewer and urban runoff.  But not all sediment becomes contaminated and it too could have potential. That’s why the Port is also looking to pinpoint areas of the ship channel where clean sediment can be selectively dredged and marketed for beneficial use. 

While beneficial use could save taxpayers millions, managing sediment still involves costs, whether through bedload interception, beneficial use, or placement in existing CDFs. That’s why if voters approve the Port’s proposed levy – Issue 108 on the countywide ballot – the agency would allocate a portion of the funds to sediment management. 

“We’re not just looking at how to get the sediment out of the channel—that’s not sustainable,” explained White. “We’re thinking about the ultimate fate of this material.  With a little effort, we can transform what has been a throwaway material into a commodity that has value for the community.”


In the Community

Building a vibrant new urban neighborhood along the Cuyahoga River 

The first office tower to be built in Cleveland in more than a generation is steadily rising along the Cuyahoga River and on track to open in May. The 23-story building will anchor the Flats East Bank, a new urban neighborhood that is the result of vision, savvy — and a hefty amount of persistence. It’s also a showcase for Port of Cleveland programs that help turn development projects into reality. 

Phase I of the new waterfront community developed by a partnership of The Wolstein Group and Fairmount Properties LLC opens in the spring. It will include the Ernst & Young office tower, a 150-room Aloft hotel, a 16,000-square-foot health club, restaurants, entertainment areas, and a 1,200-foot public boardwalk – all in the area where Cleveland’s first neighborhood took root. Phase II, slated to break ground later next year, is to include a 200+ unit upscale riverfront residential complex and more restaurants and entertainment venues. 

Developer Bert Wolstein conceived of reviving the historic area with a mix of projects that would create a vibrant and uniquely Cleveland destination. After Wolstein’s death, his wife, Iris, and son, Scott, continued working to turn vision into development through their Wolstein Group’s partnership with Fairmount Properties. 

“The Wolstein family’s vision for the neighborhood is incredible,” said Adam Fishman, principal at Fairmount Properties.  “It’s really the first time Cleveland has done major new riverfront development in a total mixed-use environment.” 

Flats East Bank is rising on a site that once helped secure Cleveland’s place as a world-class industrial power, later became home to a thriving entertainment district, and then largely fell into disuse, with many parcels vacant or simply serving as parking lots. At that point Wolstein’s vision for revitalizing the area was born. 

But right when the 23-acre site was finally assembled, the global financial crisis hit in 2008, and the project almost fell apart. 

“Just as we were about to move forward, the financial world seized up, and nobody in the country could close on a large development like this,” Fishman said.  “Flats East Bank was basically on life support.” 

The project needed to be jumpstarted – and that’s what happened. “The financing we put together to save this project was extraordinary, closing at a time when capital markets were still very dislocated and really not functioning,” he explained. “It took 34 different sources of money and the most complicated financing structure ever executed in Northeast Ohio to do it. We had to be creative.” 

Fishman said the Port has been indispensible through the entire process. “It helped us immensely with financing and was critical in getting the necessary land assembled,” he said. “The project simply would not have happened without the Port’s involvement.” 

The Port issued $136.7 million in bonds for the project, nearly half the dollars needed for Phase I.  “The money behind these bonds come from private investors who believed this project was a good investment,” said Brent Leslie, the Port’s chief financial officer. “The Port was glad to help move Flats East Bank forward by using its bonding power to line up this private support.” 

The Port also assisted the developers’ efforts to secure additional state, federal, and local dollars for roadways, storm sewers, and bulkheads along the riverfront.  “We were involved from the beginning, and played a role on multiple levels,” said Leslie, noting that next year the Port will become a neighbor to the complex when its administrative offices move to a building the agency purchased on W. 9th Street. 

The developers were also creative and cutting-edge in their use of “green” designs.  The project plans received LEED ND plan designation (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design, neighborhood development) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Environmentally friendly hallmarks of the project include energy-efficient lighting fixtures, recycled building materials, and a compact development on a former brownfield. 

Ernst & Young, Tucker Ellis LLP, and CB Richard Ellis, are collectively bringing more than 1,800 employees to the area, while the hotel, restaurants and other venues will bring hundreds more. 

When the entire project is completed, Fishman said, Cleveland will boast “a major regional development that will transform the way Northeast Ohioans and visitors experience our waterfront for generations to come.  The impact should be nothing short of transformative.”

  • In the Community
In the Community