Maple Street Extension remained closed between Fort Harmar Drive and Bellevue Street Monday after a landslip shoved a pile of topsoil onto the roadway last week.
City crews cleared sand from the street, but streets superintendent Todd Stockel said that's all he felt comfortable doing.
"The slip is over the curb about eight to 10 inches now. We took a little off the road when a slip occurred there a couple years ago, but now there's so much soil built up I'm afraid if we take any more it could all come down," he said. "I think it would be a big gamble and a major risk. We could lose a dump truck, backhoe and an operator. Any big vibration could bring more of that hillside down."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
A sign posted near the bottom of Maple Street Extension warns traffic about the possibility of landslides from the steep hillside on the left.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Tim Cross works on some landscaping Monday at the edge of what used to be a rock quarry located between Bellevue Street and Maple Street Extension. A landslip has formed in at least one section of the former quarry, spilling soil onto the Maple Street Extension roadway which has been closed to traffic since the slip occurred last week.
Stockel said he doesn't know how long Maple Street Extentsion will be closed, but he noted it should not be opened until after the spring rains as the ground there is already well saturated after this winter's heavy snows.
Marietta Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, lives on Bellevue Street about a block from the general area where the landslip occurred last week. Across the street from his home a vine-covered rock cliff drops to a level area several feet below.
"This was once a stone quarry. The blocks that were used to build the Anchorage came out of this quarry," he said. "After the quarry closed houses were built on the leveled area at the bottom of the hill."
Landslip issues persist
- Maple Street Extension between Fort Harmar Drive and Bellevue Street has been closed indefinitely due to a landslip that occurred along the roadway last week.
- A landslip occurred in the same area two years ago, temporarily closing Maple Street Extension.
- Marietta streets crews removed sand from the roadway following last week's landslip, but the streets superintendent is concerned that removing any more soil from the bottom of the slip could bring more of the hillside down.
- The city engineering department said before any work can begin to stabilize the slip, soil borings would be needed to determine where the bedrock is located in the hillside.
Source: City of Marietta.
Those homes are long gone now, but some remnants of foundations and sections of concrete steps can still be seen on the hillside.
Noland said there are probably 15 to 20 owners of the mostly vertical property that lies between Bellevue and Maple Street Extension.
The area where the slip occurred last week belongs to Grace Stage, according to documents in the Washington County Tax Map Office.
A parcel on the hillside just south of the Stage property is listed to Paul Bertram, grandfather of city law director Paul Bertram III.
"My grandfather died 45 years ago, but there have always been slip issues in that area, going back more than 75 years," he said. "There used to be three houses located on that hillside, built during the Depression years, but those people all had to move out because of the slip problems."
A home that sits on Bellevue Street at the west end of the Stage property, overlooking Maple Street Extension, belongs to Billy Rowland, who said two years ago was the first time he'd seen a landslip onto the street.
"And I lived here for 12 years," he said. "The soil has just slipped onto the road. They could bring in a backhoe and dump truck and dig it back a little and haul the soil away."
Neighbor Jeff Starner agreed, adding that closing Maple Street Extension is a real inconvenience for those who regularly use the street to access their homes from Fort Harmar Drive (Ohio 7).
"To me the slip doesn't look any worse than it has for years," he said. "And it looks like the slip could be fixed pretty simply by removing some of the soil and hauling it away. I think if they would have done that when the slip occurred two years ago we wouldn't have this problem now."
But Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said a more permanent fix is needed.
"The first step would be to do soil borings at the top of the slip and then down toward the bottom," he said. "That would show us where the bedrock is and where the slipping soil is. The results of those borings would dictate where we go from there."
Lambert said the soil borings could be costly, and funding is limited.
"There are no grant funds that I know of to help us pay for the soil borings," he said. "Granting agencies want to know the funding is going to produce a solution, but we can't know what the solution is without doing the borings first."
There are other areas of hillside movement in the city, including a slip near the intersection of Bellevue and Lancaster streets, which has kept the northern end of Bellevue closed since the fall of 2012.
Lambert said the city development department is working on an Ohio Public Works Commission Emergency Grant to help pay for a fix on the Bellevue slip.
Development Director Andy Coleman said city council has given him permission to pursue the grant monies, but the exact amount to be sought has not yet been determined.
"We'll know more later. We're intending to start the application process this week," he said. "We can apply for full project cost, but it's a competitive grant with other projects. The OPWC will look at the project impact and the need."
Coleman said the fact that the Bellevue slip could cause damage to Lancaster Street, which is also Ohio 676, may lend some credence to the city's need for the grant funding.
Lambert said the engineering department has enough information about the Bellevue slip to provide a fix for that area, but more research has to be done before anything can be done on the Maple Street Extension landslip.
"Every landslip is different," he said. "So they very much have to be treated on a case-by-case basis."
Bertram said the engineering department and members of city council's streets and transportation committee would continue to discuss the landslip issue at the committee's next meeting, which will be scheduled during Thursday's regular city council meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the community building at Lookout Park.