BHJ receives updates on road projects

STEUBENVILLE — The Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission on Wednesday received updates on several road projects, including removal of a boulder that fell onto state Route 7 near Rush Run in August.

Scott Warner, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s new liaison to BHJ, said officials are seeking a contractor to ensure the adjacent hillside where the rock fell is stable before attempting to remove it.

The boulder, described by others as 50 to 60 feet high and 125 feet wide, must be broken up to be removed, Warner said, and using explosives isn’t seen as a viable option because it could affect the hill behind it.

Crews had excavated the hillside above a five-mile section of the highway in an effort to prevent rock slides when the rock fell 25 to 30 feet from the hill.

Warner reported crews continue to excavate along Route 7 north of Brilliant and have begun to install drainage structures in that area. The work is scheduled to be completed later this month, with all lanes expected to be re-opened in the spring.

His written report to BHJ noted crews continue to build a retaining wall along the enbankment by state Route 7 where two new turning lanes will be built from the west side of the highway to the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The 900-foot lanes will replace the present short turning lane that has been closed since the work began. A new access road to the Steubenville Marina is a part of the project.

State highway officials said the wall and additional support for the railroad bridge that extends over the highway were added to address concerns from the Norfolk-Southern Railroad.

ODOT project engineer Zac Evick, who was called for comment, confirmed plans call for the wall to be completed by winter and the present southbound lanes to be re-opened to traffic at that time.

He said the new turning lanes and new access to the marina are tentatively set for completion in the fall of 2018.

Warner reported ODOT has awarded a $1.9 million contract to A.P. O’Horo Co. of Youngstown for repairs to nearly 2 miles of bridges along state Route 7 north of U.S. Route 22. A start date hasn’t been announced.

Warner said ODOT is planning or advertising the following projects:

• The addition of a turning lane and installation of a new traffic signal at the southern intersection of state Routes 7 and 213.

• Realignment of a short section of state Route 43 in Amsterdam.

• The establishment of a park and ride lot near County Road 150A and state Route 7 in Rayland.

In other business:

• Paprocki noted a state Route 2 bypass in New Cumberland has been named one of more than 30 projects to be funded by the Roads to Prosperity bond issue to be decided by West Virginians in a special election Oct. 7.

The project has been supported by the planning commission at the behest of former New Cumberland Mayor Linda McNeil.

McNeil said it would alleviate traffic congestion and address safety concerns involving large trucks traveling through a winding section of the highway through the city.

In July the West Virginia Department of Transportation accepted public comment on several scenarios for the bypass.

In related business, Mark Henne, former Wellsburg city manager, expressed concern that improving the turning radius at state Routes 2 and 27 has been identified only as a possible project.

Henne said the large volume of trucks turning at the intersection should make it a top priority.

• BHJ Executive Director Mike Paprocki introduced Adrienne Wood, the planning commission’s new office manager. Wood served previously as receptionist and office assistant under Linda Taylor, who is retiring after 17 years with BHJ.

The commission agreed to send a letter of thanks to Taylor.

Paprocki said Alecia Ford will fill Wood’s previous position.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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