Lawrence County crews have full plate of road projects

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2005

The last six months have been unusual,

as far as the weather is concerned. Lawrence County has slogged through three hurricanes and numerous thunderstorms that brought flash floods. All that weather has wreaked havoc on roadways, breaking pavement, filling ditches with debris and sending hillsides slipping. Local road crews are left with the chore of cleaning up the mess.

Big Messes

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Road work is what road crews do: Repaving, chip and seal details, ditching, bridge repairs. These are typical duties for state and county road workers.

But lately, the list of duties has been longer: Both county and state crews have dealt with hillside slips.

Ohio Department of Transportation Lawrence County crews spent the last few months of 2003 repairing numerous slips that threatened state roadways

and that work is continuing.

"It's been the wettest two years that I'm aware of in my time,"

ODOT Lawrence County Garage Transportation Administrator Cecil Townsend said.

Elmo Greer and Son, general contractors for Phase 1B of the Tri-State Metro Outer Belt have reported 15 slips in their work zone, causing them to ask for more money and more time to finish the job.

Lawrence County seems to be slipping and sliding all over the place. State Route 217 at the 3 mile marker remains closed at this time while crews with Maiden and Jenkins of Nelsonville repair a slip on that roadway.

Townsend said that slip alone could cost up to $400,000 to repair.

"It depends on how much concrete is used, how deep they have to drill (pilings)," Townsend said.

There have also been mudslides recently on portions of State Routes 378, 218 and 243, as well as a mudslide on State Route 7 at the seven mile marker near Crown City. Most of the smaller slips are being done in-house. Townsend said materials alone to repair those slips could cost his office $100,000.

State workers are not alone: Lawrence County Engineer's Office road crews are also busy with weather-related problems. Highway Supervisor Jim O'Keefe said county crews are also contending with hillside slips. "No doubt about that, with all the weather we've had."

A hillside slip on Booth – Eaton Road has forced traffic down to one lane while county crews drive piling to shore up the hillside.

Road crews have also had to contend with the effects of recent flooding as well. Portions of Lawrence Street Road and Hog Run Road were closed earlier this week because of high water.

Rearranging things

Such repair work as hillside slips and washed out roadways often means schedules get juggled and plans get changed.

"There are just a certain amount of man hours you plan for each year. You have slips and that takes away from guardrail work, ditching and litter control," Townsend said. "We're presently trying to prioritize."

Then there are the potholes. Both Townsend and O'Keefe said they try to use dry days for such repairs, and have crews out working on potholes throughout the year.

"In our monthly plan we planned for 850 pothole patches and this month we've done 650 already. That was through Jan. 19," Townsend said.

County crews also began working this week to replace a bridge on Johnny Wolf Hollow in Elizabeth Township.

While complaints about roads are as pervasive as road problems themselves, O'Keefe said road crews do their best under what if often less than ideal situations. "I think our guys do a good job," O'Keefe said. "I think they need to be commended. We do as good a job as we can do and try to be as expedient as we can."