Residents ask county to force ODOT to help

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

Can they or can't they?

Lawrence County Commissioners asked the Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office Thursday for an opinion about whether the county could force the Ohio Department of Transportation to fix drainage problems in and around the area of Phase 1B of the Chesapeake Bypass, also known as the Tri-State Metro Outer Belt.

Rome Township Trustee Charles Fuller said the new part of the Chesapeake Bypass has rechanneled storm water runoff so that nearby property is now subject to flash flooding.

Email newsletter signup

"These were problems they knew about when they designed it. We met with ODOT. Mr. (Jason) Stephens attended a meeting in Chillicothe and we pointed out the problems and the problems haven't gone away," Fuller said. "We have flash flooding with less rainfall; property is being damaged and township roads are being flooded."

Rome area resident William Pannell said four years ago, it took 6 inches of water accumulated within 24 hours to flood properties in that area. Now it only takes approximately 1 inch of water. The problem, he said, started when dirt began to fly on the ODOT job.

"The first time it flooded was in 2002. We had 6.37 inches of water over six days. Š The construction started last summer and that's when it started flooding," Pannell said. "At first it took 3.8 inches of water to flood and now we're down to an inch in a day to bring about flooding in our yard. Flooding it worse than it ever was. It's gotten into areas where people had no concerns before."

Residents said they feared that if the project is completed on scheduled in October of next year, contractors and ODOT officials could declare the matter settled, leaving them to contend with the flooding.

"We're going to see if we can," Lawrence County Commissioner George Patterson told the residents. We're going to see who needs to initiate the action."

ODOT officials were not available to comment.