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Landslides continue to be a problem on many roads

Washington County gives construction updates

File Photo In this 2019 photo, a crew works on Vaught Road. Engineering design, architecture, bidding and construction are in full swing for three years’ worth of repair backlog.

In 2018, record rainfall resulted in federally-qualified emergency relief for landslips on Washington County roads.

Then again, in 2019, more rain, more landslips, more roads disappearing down hillsides.

Then a pandemic in 2020 put a halt on many construction plans, design firms went remote, and government offices up the line tightened the belt.

Now?

“Some of our FEMA landslips were so big I requested funds for both engineering and architecture because with some of the projects we couldn’t handle that many designs, and oversight in-house all at once,” said Washington County Engineer Roger Wright.

Now, engineering design, architecture, bidding and construction are in full swing for three years’ worth of backlog.

“We’re having a big year this year,” he said.

More than $8 million in projects are either in design, out for bid, under contract, in progress or complete as of Friday including the 2020 asphalt paving of three county roads with only local county engineering funds ($615,817).

“That’s Arends Ridge Road in Devola, County Road 32 in Waterford that runs from (Ohio) 339 to 339 in front of Jukebox Pizza and Waterford High School (Country Road 4), and Groves Avenue (Slaughterhouse Hill),” he shared.

There are 18 projects, not including those the county office aids townships in design and bidding.

“These are the largest landslips that we have, where some have half a lane missing, you look out and wonder where the ground went,” said Wright. “We knew we needed to farm out some of the bigger designs. We’ve got multiple landslips and multiple folks working on those so we can attack them (efficiently).”

That team partnership, he explained, is a positive byproduct of the challenges of record rainfall, too.

“Since we had FEMA disasters in 2018 and 2019, (officials) look to see if the county has a flood hazard mitigation plan, that’s something that the state wants us to do and we do have one. Because we do, we were eligible for FEMA flood hazard mitigation money,” explained Wright. “But when we applied in 2018, we were denied.”

Then, in 2019, by use of parallel interests and lobbying, the tide changed.

“After we talked with Congressman (Bill) Johnson’s office, they assisted in helping with the application and provided a letter of support,” Wright described. “But who first did the leg work, a lot of leg work, was the Marietta Country Club.”

By reviewing how the club off of Pike Street experiences the runoff and flooding problems similar to neighbors up County House Lane, the adjoining interests of city of Marietta developers, county residents, the private club and government both locally, regionally and nationally were realized.

“The country club is having the most adverse effect when it rains heavily. But people who live on County House Lane are also experiencing flooding along that creek and they get flooded during a big rain event as well,” Wright described.

Now, a study of the drainage basin that extends from the top of the hill at the county home to the country club at the bottom is underway.

“FEMA covered 75 percent of the hazard mitigation study,” Wright said.

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency covered another 12.5 percent, with the final 12.5 split three ways by the city, county and club to complete the $115,000 project.

“How about that for a partnership project?” Wright chuckled, before getting back to work.

See editions of the Times next week for review of the projects underway with state and federal funding.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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