Harmar streets reopen to traffic

A couple of years had passed since Duane Murray last saw cars traveling down Harmar Hill along Bellevue Street near his home. But that all changed Friday when the one-way street was reopened to traffic after a two-year closure due to a landslip in that area.

The slip was repaired at the end of June and the roadway patched so that traffic could once again travel on the northern end of Bellevue.

“There’s more traffic on this end of the street at different times of the day, especially when employees are leaving the nursing home,” Murray said, referring to workers from the Marietta Nursing and Rehabilitation Center who use the 100 block of Bellevue to access Lancaster Street.

He was glad to see the street open to traffic again.

“I wanted it reopened because I think having a closed street near your home devalues your property,” Murray added. “And I really don’t mind the traffic on Lancaster or Bellevue.”

Melinda Cole has lived at the other end of the 100 block of Bellevue for about 50 years now.

“I think they did a good job fixing the landslip. It needed to be done. If not the slip would have just grown worse,” she said. “Now I’d like to see this end of street paved.”

Murray agreed, noting it had been 35 to 40 years since the road was resurfaced in that area.

Marietta city engineer Joe Tucker said although there has been some temporary patching after the slip was repaired, the 100 block of Bellevue is safe to travel from Bartlett to Lancaster Street.

“It’s definitely stable now and we put in new guardrail so it’s safe for traffic,” he said. “But the work that was done to fix the landslip took a toll on the pavement as they used some very heavy equipment.”

Tucker said the temporary patching was done for the traveling public’s immediate benefit, but resurfacing is also in the works.

“We wanted to get the street opened because people had been waiting on that for some time,” he said. “But we’re planning a more thorough paving there, probably sometime late this fall.”

Tucker did caution drivers using the recently reopened roadway to be careful especially when turning right from Bellevue onto Lancaster Street.

“That’s a worrisome area because vehicles have to make a wide right turn onto Lancaster,” he said. “It’s easier to make a left turn there. Drivers who want to make a right turn onto Lancaster should probably use the Bartlett Street intersection.”

Residents from the opposite end of Bellevue Street recently approached Marietta City Council’s streets and transportation committee about reopening Maple Street Extension that was also closed in April of this year due to a landslip.

Maple Street Extension climbs a steep hillside between Fort Harmar Drive (Ohio 7) and Bellevue Street, and has been the site of a chronic landslip for several years.

In April the street was closed to traffic after several inches of soil rolled onto the roadway, sparking concerns that larger sections of the hillside could suddenly fall onto the road, possibly endangering vehicles traveling along Maple Street Extension.

During the July 10 committee meeting, Bellevue residents Billy Rowland and Jeff Starner noted Maple Street Extension provides a vital access for traffic bound for residential areas of Harmar Hill.

Starner said the roadway itself had not been moved by the landslip.

“There’s just some dirt from the hillside that slipped down onto Maple Street,” he said.

Rowland agreed and said the street could be reopened with just a simple cleaning of topsoil from the roadway.

The committee members agreed and Maple Street Extension was opened by July 12, although traffic is narrowed to one lane near the site of the slip.

“We really haven’t done a formal repair of that slip, a good portion of which lies on private right of way,” Tucker said Monday. “But we can keep cleaning off the soil that lands on the public right of way.”

He said the danger of a catastrophic landslip there is probably small.

“But it still remains an unstable slip-prone area,” Tucker said.

The city has tried in the past to obtain funding to do a major repair of that slip through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the agency would only provide enough money for a cleanup of soil from the roadway.

For the time being the city will have to keep an eye on the slip and try to keep the roadway cleared of soil so that traffic can be maintained.

“I’m just glad to see it’s been reopened,” Rowland said Monday.