BELPRE - Following weeks of construction, the traffic pattern on Farson Street will change next week to allow for start of the next phase of work, an official said Friday.
"The traffic pattern will change beginning next week and I want people to be aware that Farson Street's lanes will be different so they need to be prepared to take a detour," Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said.
This latest change in what is open and closed on Farson Street between U.S. 50 and Washington Boulevard includes the opening of the northbound lane to the Speedway and the closure of the southbound lane from the car wash and railroad crossing to the intersection next to KFC, Lorentz said. Drivers will not be able to reach Rockland Avenue from U.S. 50 using Farson Street and drivers must take the detour on Norris Avenue, he said.
"People need to be aware that while the construction continues, how to get around and through the area changes and they need to pay attention," he said.
Lorentz and Belpre Police Chief Ernie Clevenger are concerned about the latest upcoming change in the traffic and how drivers will respond.
"This project has been a challenge for the city and our police officers since construction began last month," Lorentz said. "Several dozen drivers have done so many stupid things to avoid the barricades and detours and I am just waiting for it to happen with this latest change."
Within hours of the construction signs and barricades being placed on Farson Street in preparation for the work to begin on Aug. 12, drivers had ignored the laws, Clevenger said.
"Drivers started running the barricades and ignoring the signs from the beginning and they continue to do it," Lorentz said. "Just the other day a man drove over the curb to get around the road blocks and me because I was standing in the middle of the street so he wouldn't run the barricade; guess I was wrong."
With the change in traffic patterns, the crews will not only be working on the street itself, but also the movement of infrastructure, Lorentz said.
"It's not just the widening of the street at this point, but also moving and expanding the city's utilities to not only give current residents and businesses better services, but also be prepared for new growth in that area of Belpre," the mayor said.
This is the final project to better serve the residents and businesses in the growing west end of Belpre. Shelly and Sands Construction was hired by the Ohio Department of Transportation earlier this summer to build turn lanes for easier access to businesses in the area, including the Marietta Memorial Hospital Health Bridge Medical Park facility.
Farson Street will be widened from the intersection with U.S. 50 and will taper back to two lanes near Rockland Avenue in a two phase process, Lorentz said.
The first phase closed the southbound lane headed towards the hospital while traffic coming from Washington Boulevard will be able to go through to U.S. 50. The second phase will close the northbound lane in the same fashion, with traffic headed from U.S. 50 to Washington Boulevard able to go through.
The city has also moved utilities and plans to do more to the water and sewer lines to better serve the residents and businesses there.
The construction on this project is funded through federal grants, the Ohio Public Works and about $110,000 from the city.
The original completion date for the project is Tuesday, weather permitting, but Lorentz said he does not expect to meet that deadline and expects construction to continue through the coming week.