Bumpy roads

The brutal winter hasn’t been kind to local roadways which have been through several cycles of freezing and thawing this year, causing pavement edges to crumble and creating thousands of potholes.

Since Nov. 1 Ohio Department of Transportation District 10 has spent $225,000 on equipment, material and labor for pothole patching alone.

Now, due to the impacts of a harsh winter and heavy truck traffic on highway pavement, ODOT is planning to sink more than $10 million into major paving projects on Ohio 7 in Monroe and Washington counties this spring.

“State Route 7 in Monroe and Washington counties is one of the heaviest traveled roads in the district and is probably the most stressed. We had planned to do paving later this year in Monroe County, but now we’ve expedited that paving to the spring, as soon as the asphalt plants open,” said David Rose, ODOT District 10 communications manager.

He said the worst damage has been on the Monroe County end of Ohio 7 as that area sees heavier truck traffic, and much of that from increased shale oil and gas industry activity.

“So State Route 7 is a top priority, along with U.S. 50 in Vinton County. Those are probably the first two areas where the paving will begin this year,” Rose said.

Last week ODOT District 10 Deputy Director Steve Williams announced the agency had received feedback from area residents about the road conditions on Ohio 7 and in response would begin major paving this year on nearly 13 miles of the highway in Monroe County and another 15 miles in Washington County.

“These are fully-contracted paving projects that will be done as soon as possible,” Rose said. “We’ll also be doing some additional pavement maintenance and repairs throughout the district.”

Those repairs will likely include Ohio 676 where area resident Ted Lane, owner of Lane’s Farm Market, said ODOT crews have been patching potholes almost daily.

“There’s been some considerable deterioration, especially on the section of road leading into Marietta,” he said. “The road seems to be cracking apart in some areas.”

Lane noted Ohio 676 had been paved a couple of years ago, but after this winter more paving may have to be done.

“There are several potholes along Ohio 550, too, especially in the Tunnel Hill area,” he added.

Ron Clatterbuck, manager of the Ohio Valley Cab and Delivery Service on Lancaster Street, said the winter has taken a toll on roads as well as the company’s vehicles.

“This is probably the worst winter I’ve ever seen, and a lot of roads are in need of repair,” he said, noting the cab service travels local roads as well as major highways in Ohio and West Virginia.

“Some of the local city streets are in better shape than roadways outside of town,” Clatterbuck added.

But he said potholes in area streets can damage some of the company’s 13 cab vehicles that operate 24/7.

“The potholes do cause some flat tires,” he said. “But we just change the tires and get the cars back on the road.”

Washington County Engineer Roger Wright said the winter’s wear on county roads has not been overly damaging, but crews are out patching potholes as weather permits.

He said no determination has yet been made on which roads will be part of the county’s paving program this year.

“We’ll be deciding what areas are going to be paved and letting those projects out for bids as early as possible this year,” Wright said. “And I’m not aware of any of our roadways that are deteriorated enough to require emergency repairs or paving.”

The county’s paving program costs between $1 million and $1.5 million each year, and Wright said carryover funding is set aside every year so that money is readily available for the coming year’s paving contract.

“We are expecting to do some additional road work this year, due to the hard winter,” he said. “That may be paving or we could do more chip and seal.”

Wright said he’ll be taking a closer look at county road conditions as the weather and snow subsides. He said the annual paving projects should be completed between April and June.

In Marietta, city engineer Joe Tucker said he, too, would be able to get a better look at city street conditions once the weather breaks.

“But it’s almost guaranteed that we’ll have to invest some more in street repairs and fixing potholes,” he said. “We’ve had an extremely bad winter, and there are some serious areas showing up in our streets, and crews will be working on those.”

Tucker said the city’s 2014 asphalt paving program shouldn’t be impacted by street damage from the harsh winter weather, but any damaged streets could show up in the 2015 paving program.

He noted a lot of road work is scheduled in the city this year, including two major intersection upgrade projects at Pike, Acme and Jefferson streets and Seventh, Pike and Greene streets.

“There will also be paving on a half-mile section of Pike Street that’s located between those two intersections,” Tucker said.

He said the Pike, Acme and Jefferson streets intersection upgrade is slated to begin in March, with completion in mid-August of this year. The Seventh, Pike and Greene intersection project will start in May and continue through the end of the year.

Also scheduled this year is a widening project on Millcreek Road, off Colegate Drive.

“We’ll be seeing $5 million to $6 million worth of road work in the city this year,” Tucker said. “It will be a busy construction season.”