The Maumee Spit


The Maumee spit


Open Ideas Competition: North Coast Design Competition

Team: Chris Bennett, Matthew Brown, Fadi Masoud, Conor O'Shea 

The Maumee Spit harnesses the natural force of Toledo’s Maumee River to create a research-driven sediment economy.

Throughout the second half of the 20th century Toledo and other once burgeoning Rust Belt economies have transitioned from sites of manufacturing towards more service oriented economies. The once busy harbors of Great Lakes ports now see a fraction of their past throughput, surviving on much lesser amounts of bulk goods—namely iron ore, limestone and coal. Despite this transition—itself indicative of a larger global reorganization of sites of production and consumption—the Army Corps of Engineers continues to dredge 3.3 million cubic yards of sediment from Great Lakes channels and harbors. This costly practice is especially acute in the Maumee River, the fastest flowing Great Lakes tributary that carries approximately 1/3rd of the sediment dredged from the Great Lakes annually. As the USACE reported recently “[t]he most efficient and effective solution to this challenge is to reduce the amount of material that must be dredged every year.”

Rather than resisting this flow of sediment, our proposal harnesses the exceptional natural force of the Maumee River by halting dredge operations and catching the sediment in the Maumee Spit. Dredging is stopped between River Mile 0 at the mouth of the harbor and its current upstream extents. As sediment builds up in the river and 20th century industry continues to diminish, the 21st century industrial Maumee Spit gains prominence by facilitating a new sediment economy. Formerly industrial sites along the Maumee River in central Toledo are urbanized in an ecologically sensitive manner.

The horizontal scaffolding of the Maumee Spit cultivates a new economy by catching, sorting, and exporting sediment washed down the river. These operations are closely monitored and adjusted over time based on the ongoing research of the Dredge Research Center.  Toledo, once the epicenter of Great Lakes dredging, becomes the hub of a new research-driven sediment economy.