Equipment is ready to fix the slumping embankment along the turnpike near bridges over State Rt. 19 and the Norfolk Southern railroad west of Fremont's Interchange 91. Work began this month.
FREMONT -- With the Ohio General Assembly having recently declared the Ohio Turnpike Commission responsible for heavy maintenance on embankments that lift local roads up to bridges over the toll road, work soon will begin on repairing failed embankments in Sandusky County.
Repairs to Jacobs Road, whose bridge over the turnpike closed in March, 2007, because of its unsafe condition, are scheduled to start this week.
Work on 10 other township and county roads along the turnpike is slated by the end of 2014.
Three other local roads nearby have closed more recently, all because the embankments built to lift them up to bridges over the turnpike have collapsed to the point that County Engineer James Moyer declared the roads unsafe.
"We're very happy to get it done," Mr. Moyer said. "The turnpike now is being very cooperative, and we're very appreciative of that."
State lawmakers' declaration in the current biennial budget law that the turnpike was responsible for heavy maintenance on those embankments broke a standoff between the toll road and the county and townships.
Toll-road officials had asserted that their repair duty ended at the right-of-way line, while the locals said that without the turnpike there, the embankments wouldn't exist.
But in any case, Mr. Moyer had said that without outside funding, the roads would have to close, because neither the county nor the townships could afford the multimillion-dollar bill to fix the slopes.
"It was going to be $70,000 at each site just for soil tests -- probably about $1 million total. This will save us a lot of money," Mr. Moyer said.
Dan Castrigano, the turnpike's chief engineer, estimated the total bill for the turnpike at $10 million, including the $1.27 million contract it awarded last month to Ko- kosing Construction Co. for this year's work.
The contractor began repairs early this month on a failing embankment along the turnpike's main line near its bridge over State Rt. 19 north of Fremont. Mr. Castrigano said that work might occasionally require shoulder or right-lane closings on the turnpike's eastbound side, "depending on how they bring equipment in."
Local-road embankments to be repaired in coming years include those on Four Mile House, Fangboner, Shannon, and Werth roads in Sandusky Township; Carley, Shiets, Gibbs, Karbler, and Yorktown roads in Riley Township, and Township Line Road on the two townships' border.
The turnpike’s chief engineer blames the soil for the crumbling embankments over State Rt. 19.
BBCM Engineering has been hired for $530,000 to handle on-site engineering for the other 10 bridges' embankments, with work starting next year, Mr. Castrigano said.
The failing embankments all were built at the same time, in the early 1950s, as the rest of the Ohio Turnpike, but similar slope failures have not occurred to any comparable extent elsewhere.
Mr. Castrigano and Mr. Moyer agreed that the local soils, rich with poorly draining clay, were to blame for the problems.
"It's a silty clay, and when it gets wet it starts slumping," Mr. Castrigano said. "It's just a circle, because when the surface starts cracking, more water gets in and makes it worse."
"It really was the soils -- some soils wouldn't be as susceptible" to this sort of failure, Mr. Moyer said.
The Ohio Department had similar problems with embankments it built near the junction of State Rts. 2 and 53 outside Port Clinton, a few miles north of the turnpike.
Those slopes were repaired last decade.
But while they are rarer, such slope failures are not unheard of elsewhere in northwest Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is repairing embankments it built only about 20 years ago for the I-75 interchange with the turnpike near Perrysburg. While mostly being performed from the shoulder, those repairs will require closing the northbound I-75 exit to the turnpike for about nine hours tonight, starting at 8 p.m.
Traffic will be detoured to the Buck Road interchange and then back south to the turnpike.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.