By AMY GAREIS
News-Herald Staff Writer
CADIZ – The temporary closure of a major artery in Harrison County will cause some headaches for motorists, but it is being called the best option while the route undergoes an overhaul.
Myriad speakers were on hand during a dinner session on Wednesday with the county engineer, township trustees and fiscal officers. More than 100 people gathered at Wallace Lodge Wednesday as Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 officials said a portion of U.S. 250 is due for improvements but detours would be needed while the $6.26 million upgrade is underway. A 2.4-mile section east of Tappan Lake from Mizer Road to Milliken Road will be shut down for a 45-day period starting in September, but it should be reopened before the Thanksgiving holiday. Shelly and Sands Construction was contracted to undertake the task at a cost of $6,260,427 with the timeline estimated from June 1 to May 15 of next year.
Temporary traffic signals will be placed at the intersection of Ohio 9 and U.S. 22 with more at Ohio 151 and U.S. 250 plus the two ramps at Cadiz. Leaders said the nearly 10-mile detour was needed to complete the upgrade and the closure enables the job to finish quickly and with better quality.
“Why are we closing U.S. 250? Because we couldn’t figure out any other way,” said Jim Graham, district highway management administrator. He noted the detour ran from Ohio 9 at Cadiz to Ohio 151 to Scio and Bowerston, eventually reconnecting at U.S. 250 past the lake. “It’s the only detour we felt comfortable using.”
Graham cited continued traffic use and potential lake-effect erosion in the consistent cracking of the surface, but the latest process will grind down the trouble spot and add slip-form concrete pavement.
“It is what we call “poor-performing pavement.” Everything that’s been done to the road for the last 20 years has not been successful. This is brand new to us. We’re hopeful it will be a success and use it for the corridor. The road will be closed for 45 days, and if we tried to do the same work at half-width, you’re looking at traffic jams for two years. It’s beyond maintenance,” he explained. “The contractors will do repairs and maintenance through the summer and then we will shut down and tear out the road. I guarantee I will never see another [new road there] in my lifetime. There is a minimum 25-year lifespan.”
Chris Wood, county ODOT manager, gave an overview of other Harrison projects. About $10.5 million is being spent on upgrades, including chip-and-seal along Ohio 342 and 258 at Freeport, a culvert replacement along Ohio 799 at the Clendening Lake area and slip repairs at the Jewett corporation limit. Ideas for next year include paving Ohio 9 from New Athens to Cadiz, but he also appreciated the cooperation of townships to keep areas maintained and alert ODOT of problem sites.
Wood also touched upon the Tappan project, saying a section of the detour at Ohio 9 near Cadiz would be improved prior to the U.S. 250 project’s start date.
“It’s a project they’ve needed for years,” he said of the Tappan plan.
District 11 Director Richard Bible said the construction season would be the largest in Ohio’s history, with about $4 billion in projects occurring statewide and stimulus funding spurring improvements and job creation.
County Engineer Rob Sterling, who led the gathering, informed the crowd of improvements through his office.
Other speakers included Smithfield Township Trustee Terry Bell, who also serves as president of the Jefferson County Township Association, regarding legislation to help townships solve road problems.
Victoria Beale, assistant director of ODOT’s Local Technical Assistance Program, also updated officials on available services and resources through LTAP. Greg DiDonato, executive director of the Ohio Mid-East Government Association, discussed free grant-writing services for the community. DiDonato said one program enabled the Stock Township to receive $87,000 in grants and loans for maintenance equipment and encouraged leaders to seek OMEGA’s services for financial assistance.
Additionally, County Township Association Vice President Dan Henry announced a spring banquet May 27 at the Moorefield Township Fire Hall and an HCTA meeting on June 8 at the Nottingham Township Building.