• 50°

Work on bypass to continue

Completion of the Chesapeake Bypass is behind schedule because of the weather and hazardous waste materials found on the site in August. Work will continue right on through the winter, however, if Mother Nature cooperates.

Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 9, said the contractors, Ahern and Associates of Charleston, W.Va., plan to continue working at the site at least through the end of the year. If the weather permits, they plan to build embankments, install guardrails, set poles, install traffic signals and possibly plant grass seeding, she said.

Originally scheduled to be completed by November, Phase 1A of the bypass is a two lane roadway that will take traffic from the 31st Street bridge to Irene Road.

Phase 1B, which is scheduled to be up for bid next spring, will extend State Route 7 from Irene Road to just beyond Fairland East Elementary School. It will take approximately two construction seasons to complete.

All of the intermediate blacktop has been applied but the asphalt plants have closed for the season, so the surface course will not be finished until next year.

Also, cut out work to be completed at the State Route 607 connection near the Proctorville bridge will be delayed until next year.

"The contractors are to be commended for completing as much as they did within the given timeframe and for their efforts to pursue as much off-roadway work as possible in the coming weeks," she said.

Fuller said as far as ODOT is concerned, the cleanup of the hazardous waste materials that were found in the project area have been completed.

Aztec, Inc., a subcontractor for Ahern & Associates,

was hired to work with ODOT to dispose of the materials.

Dumping was discovered by the contractors on Aug. 2 when the company was pouring the western footer for a bridge at Little Paddy Creek, about a half mile out State Route 775.

The materials appeared to be industrial waste, both in barrels and loose, and tests confirmed the substance contained lead,

cadmium, arsenic and chromium, said Clint Shuff, environmental specialist for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Division of Solid Waste and Infectious Waste Management.

Shuff said that as of Nov. 15 there was still waste on the property allegedly owned by Gary Riley, of Riley Development Company of Proctorville, and on portions that were acquired by ODOT.

The EPA sent a violation letter to Riley for improper waste disposal. To date, waste that has cost more than $660,000 to dispose of has been removed from the property, he said.

In the violation letter sent in November, Shuff stated that Riley was also notified by the EPA in 1983 that he was illegally dumping materials from Connors Steel of Huntington, W,Va.,

at a nearby site.

In November of 1997, Riley was sent a letter about the dumping of solid waste and debris on Little Paddy Creek. According to the letters sent by Shuff, the waste receipts or confirmation that it had been cleaned up were never received.

The state of Ohio and ODOT filed eminent domain to acquire property from Riley for the Chesapeake Bypass. Currently, the case is in

appropriations court, awaiting a decision to determine the amount ODOT owes Riley.

Riley's attorney Michael E. Born, from Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP of Columbus, said he and his client plan to cooperate fully and are waiting for more information before he can comment on specifics.

"We have responded to their request and we are waiting for them to provide info relating to the site," he said.

As of

Dec. 4, Born said they had not received anything other than the notification letter.

Born said Riley owns several pieces of property in the area and has always been a responsible owner, he said. It is hard to determine where any waste may have come from because the area is in a flood plane and debris often comes from upstream.

"Mr. Riley has cleaned up his properties and posted no dumping signs over the years but it has only been so effective, Born said."