Village prepares for road closure

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2000

Proctorville – Ohio 7 motorists might experience additional delays traveling through Proctorville and Rome Township beginning this week.

Monday, January 31, 2000

Proctorville – Ohio 7 motorists might experience additional delays traveling through Proctorville and Rome Township beginning this week. Ohio Department of Transportation officials will begin installation of a traffic signal at the junction of Ohio 775 and Irene Road in preparation for the Big Paddy Creek Bridge closure later this month, said Holly Snedecor Gray, ODOT district 9 public information officer.

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While crews are erecting the signal, traffic on Ohio 775 and Irene Road will be maintained with the aid of flaggers. The traffic signal will take about two to three days to install, she said.

The installation is necessary to help traffic flow when Ohio 775 and Irene Road are used as a detour around Big Paddy Creek Bridge, which could be closed to traffic as early as Feb. 14, or as late as Feb. 21, depending on weather conditions.

An Irene Road businessman, Ron Ward dreads the Big Paddy Creek Bridge closure.

"I’m just waiting," Ward said. "It tears me up to think about accidents happening out here."

And unless the habits of current Irene Road motorists change, accidents will happen, he added.

"They think it’s a drag strip out here," Ward said. "You ought to see them fly out here. I don’t know. It may calm down when there’s constant traffic. It’s just having a business this close to a main highway, I’m worried about people backing out into the road. A lot of people get used to pulling in and pulling out with no traffic and that’s going to have to change."

The bridge closure is necessary, however, said John F. Hagen, ODOT District 9 deputy director.

"The purpose of the bridge replacement project is twofold," Hagen said. "First, the bridge needs to be replaced because of its deteriorated condition. Secondly, it is being replaced in preparation for the project to widen Ohio 7 through Proctorville."

The existing steel beam bridge was built in 1938, he said.

Traffic patterns and congestion have been a hot topic with Proctorville Village Council members since ODOT officials first announced the impending closure of Big Paddy Creek Bridge.

And although council members have discussed various options for maintaining traffic flow, they have decided that nothing can be done until they see for themselves how the closure will affect the village, Mayor Jim Buchanan said.

"We’ll let it happen, take a look at it and then adjust it," Buchanan said.

Traffic flow through the village might not be affected, however, he said.

Buchanan anticipates more of a problem farther into Rome Township at the intersection of Ohio 7 and 775, and Ohio 7 and Irene Road.

"The backup you’ll have is off Irene Road and Ohio 775," Buchanan said. "It looks to me like that’s where it’s going to be. I don’t think there will be any through town. I think you’ll see it be as good or better than what it already is."

Council members are prepared to act fast, however, if any traffic problems occur, Buchanan said.

"We’ll do it the next day if it is a problem," he said. "We have a few ideas. We may make some streets one way. We haven’t made that decision yet. We’ll see if just turning the light off will help."

The bridge closure will precede an additional improvement to Ohio 7. ODOT crews eventually will install a third lane through the village, Buchanan said.

"They haven’t given us a projected starting date, but I think we’re looking at the first of next year," he said.

A third lane through the area has been discussed for a number of years, and the funding is now available, Buchanan said.

"It’s being built for safety so that emergency vehicles can get to and from hospitals and fires," he said. "It can’t hurt traffic once it’s done, and it will make it easier for people who are making left hand turns.

"It’s not going to hurt us, but that’s the only way it will help us."

Big Paddy Creek Bridge should reopen after its late February closure by June 30. The estimated cost of this project is $1.3 million.

Updated information on the closure may be found on ODOT’s Web site at