Drivers ignore Belpre barricades

BELPRE – Following more than a week of construction, drivers on Farson Street continue to ignore the signs and road block, officials said.

Drivers “are still doing it, but it is quieting down a bit,” said Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz.

Belpre police Chief Ernie Clevenger said the construction has been a challenge since work began Aug. 12, because of the drivers not following the rules.

“We have had people running the barricades from the beginning,” Clevenger said. “It’s crazy because they are driving through a construction zone as if there is nothing going on.”

Lorentz said the issues with drivers not paying attention to the signage or barricades began almost the moment work started.

“There were two people who jumped the barricades the first day and it has just continued,” the mayor said.

Lorentz said there is no excuse for people to use to get out of being ticketed and fined for going through the barricades.

“It has been in the newspaper, on TV and every resident has copies of phase one and phase two,” he said. “Everyone who travels that area knows what is going on and needs to pay attention and be careful.

“When a sign says ‘closed,’ it means the road is closed and to follow the detour signs,” Lorentz continued.

Clevenger added while he understands people are in a hurry and don’t like the time road construction takes, barricades and laws exist for a reason.

“It is dangerous to not follow the signs, and I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt just to save a few minutes of travel time,” Clevenger said.

This is the final project to better serve the residents and businesses in the growing west end of Belpre. Shelly and Sands Construction was hired by the Ohio Department of Transportation earlier this summer to build turn lanes for easier access to businesses in the area, including the Marietta Memorial Hospital Health Bridge Medical Park facility.

Farson Street will be widened from U.S. 50 and will taper back to two lanes near Rockland Avenue in a two phase process, Lorentz said.

The first phase will close the southbound lane headed toward the hospital, while traffic coming from Washington Boulevard will be able to go through to U.S. 50. The second phase will close the northbound lane in the same fashion, with traffic headed from U.S. 50 to Washington Boulevard able to go through.

The city has also moved utilities and plans to do more to the water and sewer lines to better serve the residents and businesses there.

The construction on this project is funded through federal grants, the Ohio Public Works and about $110,000 from the city.

The completion date for the project, weather permitting, is Oct. 1.