Fixes target Sandusky Co. roads

12 that bridge Ohio Turnpike slowly failing

Embankment reconstruction is ongoing where Karbler Road bridges  the Ohio Turnpike near Fremont. Soil composition has caused the embankment to slip when it gets wet.
Embankment reconstruction is ongoing where Karbler Road bridges the Ohio Turnpike near Fremont. Soil composition has caused the embankment to slip when it gets wet.

FREMONT — Twelve local roads with ramps up to bridges over the Ohio Turnpike in Sandusky County that slowly had been collapsing are being built back up again, a few at a time.

Two of the roads, at Jacobs and Yorktown roads in Riley Township, have reopened after a turnpike contractor rebuilt their embankments on either side of the toll road. Doug Hedrick, the turnpike’s chief engineer, said two more — Carley and Karbler roads, also in Riley Township — are nearing completion, and yet another is under contract for work to start soon.

Bid advertising for a construction contract for four more roads, leading up to three bridges, began last week.

That will leave three more affected roads to be worked on, Mr. Hedrick said, with one planned for reconstruction and the others needing “less intrusive” repairs. Those are likely to be put out to bid late this year or early next, he said.

“They will all be done by mid-2014, per our agreement with the county,” the turnpike engineer said. “We have had no other requests — there is nobody else that’s approached on slope repairs.”

RELATED CONTENT: Road Warrior traffic log, 4-22

James Moyer, the Sandusky County engineer, said there are 10 other county or township road bridges over the toll road, but so far there is only “relatively minor” trouble at one of them: Mugg Road, also known as Townsend Township Road 278, where “we’ve noticed some guardrail posts starting to lean.

“We checked it the other day, and it hasn’t gotten any worse,” Mr. Moyer said last week.

The repair work has confirmed officials’ belief that the problems are a product of the local soil used to build the embankments, Mr. Hedrick said.

“It’s a mixture of silts and clays,” he said. “If they get wet, they lose their cohesive properties and start to slip. It is indicative of the soils in the area.”

Besides the local-road problems, embankments on the turnpike mainline in the same area also have needed repair, which Mr. Hedrick said has mostly been done during repaving projects.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has had to repair slipping embankments along State Rt. 2 just to the north in eastern Ottawa County, too.

At the turnpike overpasses, Carley and Karbler were built back up to grade level by early this month, Mr. Hedrick said, with paving likely to be finished by early May.

Next to be rebuilt is Four Mile House Road in Rice Township, the first of the 12 problem embankments to be worked on that isn’t in Riley.

The nearby Fangboner Road overpass, in Sandusky Township, and one at Shiets Road in Riley also are closed.

Their repairs are part of the next contract, as are embankments on Gibbs and Balsizer roads in Riley, which lead up to a single bridge over the toll road.

Turnpike officials for years denied responsibility for maintaining the embankments, stating that their obligation ended at the toll road’s right-of-way line and the roadways atop the ramps had been turned over to local and county maintenance after their construction during the 1950s.

But Mr. Moyer and township officials said that without the 11 turnpike bridges, there would be no reason for the embankments. And in any case, they said, the roads would have to close without toll-road help, because repair costs would be overwhelming at the local level.

The Ohio General Assembly legislatively resolved the issue two years ago, declaring the turnpike responsible for heavy maintenance on the embankments. Work on Jacobs Road, which closed to traffic in 2007 because of its condition, began in August, 2011.

Since then, Mr. Moyer said, “the turnpike has been very cooperative — it’s been great, really.”

Mr. Hedrick said contracts awarded to date have cost the turnpike about $3.3 million, with $3 million more likely to be spent on the balance.

“That would have absolutely broke the county and the townships if we’d had to do those,” Mr. Moyer said.

Contact David Patch at: or 419-724-6094.