Barrel blues

Taking a drive around Marietta these days includes plenty of orange barrels, lane changes and heavy machinery, and as spring heats up, shifting toward summer, road construction is going to be a common theme county-wide.

Big projects in Marietta are taking place now, including the Pike, Seventh and Greene streets construction and the Pike and Acme intersection road work.

Zach Bazell, Ohio Department of Transportation project engineer, said the projected completion date for Pike and Acme is in August.

“The completion date is Aug. 15 right now,” he said. “We’re widening Acme.”

Bazell said drivers can expect to see new lanes and a bigger intersection to turn into Kroger and Bridgeport Equipment, as well as new signals, the posts of which have already taken shape.

“The construction you’re seeing right now will be similar to that until it’s done,” he said.

The Pike, Seventh and Greene project has just gotten under way, Bazell said. There is going to be quite a bit of road widening as well as a double turn lane off of Pike Street to Seventh and Greene.

“We’re widening and changing the alignment,” he said. “You’re still going to see the same configuration as before.”

Bazell said the $2 million project is going to take some time to complete.

“That project will last all summer,” he said. “It’s got a Nov. 1 completion date. It’s a little more involved.”

Bazell said some questions have been and will continue to be raised until the project is done.

“Some are going to say, ‘Why would you plan all (these projects) at once?’ and others are going to say, ‘It’ll be over in one shot in one summer,'” Bazell said. “I know there’s a lot of traffic being impacted. Once Acme is done, that ought to relieve things.”

Todd Stockel, Marietta streets superintendent, said some other smaller projects will also be happening, including work on Lancaster Street.

“I’m not sure when that’s going to take place,” he said.

Washington County Engineer Roger Wright said construction on the Millcreek Road project is still up in the air as well.

“We’re waiting on approval and things of that nature,” he said.

The project, originally scheduled to start when school ended, has no definite start date.

Wright said several bridges are slated for replacement this summer.

“We’re replacing a bridge on County Road 22 near the one-mile marker,” said Wright. “We’ve got a bridge on County Road 25 that wasn’t in good shape and we’re going to have to replace it. We’ve also got a bridge on County Road 4, we’re going to replace it. There were some issues; we’re going to put in new abutments and basically have a new bridge from the ground up.”

The cost for each of the bridges ranges from about $100,000 to about $150,000.

Wright said the total cost for paving is going to total around $1.8 million, an increase from last year.

“We normally pave around $1 million,” he said. “With sales tax money, we’re getting around $500,000. We ended up taking those dollars and upped (the budget) from $1.2 million to $1.8 million, so we have a bigger paving project.”

The bridge projects are set to start in June and run through August, while school is out.

“County Road 25, it’s possible it may lag a little bit,” Wright said. “That may be more into September.”

He said the completion date for all the paving projects is Oct. 17 and it’s possible work could start within a few weeks.

David Rose, ODOT District 10 communications manager, said the budget for road work this year has increased for the department as well.

“Given the winter we had, we have a lot of projects in Southeast Ohio that are really maintenance; getting (roads) back to (the right) standards,” he said. “We have more than $13 million that we are investing in paving.”

Despite the lengthy list of projects, Rose said the impact wouldn’t be huge for drivers.

“We’re not going to have a lot of roads that are closed,” he said. “Nothing that would mean shutting down major roads.”

With road construction comes a need to be conscious of surroundings, said Rose, which means keeping both motorists and workers safe.

“Back in December 2013, the ‘move over’ law was updated,” he said. “It’s usually for emergency vehicles, police and ambulances. It was updated to include all workers at the side of the road; county workers, ODOT workers, even tow trucks. It includes everyone.”

Rose said there are important things to remember when drivers see workers at the side of the road.

“Number one, slow down,” he said. “Or if you are able to, if it’s a four lane, shift over lanes. Just please move over and slow down.”

Rose said slowing down just a little isn’t going to impact commute time, and if road closures are going to impact commutes, plan ahead and find an alternate route.

“When it comes to construction, everyone’s in a hurry,” he said. “Most construction is very short. The time it takes to slow down, it won’t (impact commute times) but seconds. Be patient, put the phone down and you’ll get safely to your destination.”