Marietta officials hear road closure recommendation

MARIETTA – Channel Lane, between the entrance to the Marietta Times parking lot and Sunset Lane, will be closed to thru traffic beginning next week due to a collapsing culvert that carries Goose Run under the roadway.

City engineer Joe Tucker recommended the road closure to Marietta City Council’s streets and transportation committee Wednesday.

“This is a serious problem so I’m recommending we close Channel Lane immediately,” he said. “We will put concrete barriers across that portion of the street to block traffic.”

The roadway over the culvert was narrowed to a single lane June 4 after a large sinkhole developed at one edge of the pavement.

Plastic cones and barrels were placed around the hole and warning signs erected at both ends of Channel Lane between Hadley Lane and Sunset Lane. But Tucker said some of those barriers have been moved, allowing vehicles to travel dangerously close to the sinkhole.

“Some serious accidents have nearly occurred there,” he said. “There are skid marks where it looks like someone came close to running off the road.”

He said the barriers will be placed across the road probably on Monday or Tuesday next week to prevent traffic from driving across the deteriorating culvert.

The corrugated steel culvert was scheduled to be re-lined in 2012, but later the engineering department determined the entire structure would have to be replaced.

“We budgeted for the culvert replacement which could easily cost more than $100,000,” Tucker said.

A final estimate and schedule have not been determined for the project, but he said the engineering department considers the repair a high priority.

“I’m meeting with a surveyor (today) to start on this project and get it through as quickly as we can,” Tucker said.

Mayor Joe Matthews announced he had just received good news from community development director Andy Coleman pertaining to potential grant funding for the project.

“We just found out there are new funds available from the Ohio Public Works Commission that can be used for the Channel Lane project,” Matthews said. That funding would require a 25 percent match from the city.

He noted that would save the city from having to draw all of the project cost from the municipal streets fund.

Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, who travels Channel Lane regularly, questioned the placement of concrete barriers across the roadway in that area.

“That could cause traffic crashes for drivers who may not be aware of those barriers,” he said.

But Tucker assured him that warning signs and reflectors would be installed to alert drivers well ahead of the concrete barriers.

He also noted that, in order to expedite the emergency repair project, Ohio Revised Code allows city councils to waive the formal bidding process that’s normally required for such work.

City law director Paul Bertram III said council would have to approve an ordinance to allow the waiver.

Councilwoman Kathy Downer, D-at large, who chairs the streets and transportation committee, said the committee members agreed to pursue the waiver.

Tucker could not give a date for the work to be done, but said it would be completed this year and once started the project could be completed in about a week.

In other business Wednesday, Harmar Hill area residents asked the streets committee to reopen Maple Street between Fort Harmar Drive and Bellevue Street. Maple Street was closed earlier this year due to a landslip that caused soil from the steep hillside to cover a portion of the roadway.

“The roadway has not moved at all; there’s just some dirt from the hillside that has slipped down onto Maple Street,” said Bellevue resident Jeff Starner.

Neighbor Billy Rowland said the slip could easily be removed from the street.

“There’s only about eight inches of soil out on the roadway,” he said. “It’s just a simple cleanup needed, so what’s the problem?”

Rowland said the landslip has existed above Maple Street for years, and poses no danger to traffic or to the homes along Bellevue Street above.

Mullen suggested the city could clean up the soil on the Maple Street right of way, then continue to regularly monitor the area for any further slippage in the future.

The other committee members agreed.

Matthews said he expected the slip could be cleaned up and Maple Street reopened by next week.