2008-08-09 / News

Seeking help when I-70 closes

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON - The Village of Hebron can't continue to be an overflow for traffic whenever I- 70 closes unless it receives much more help, say Hebron officials.

Monday night, Union Township Trustees received a written invitation from Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason to attend a meeting Aug. 27, 10 a.m. at the Hebron Municipal Complex to discuss traffic issues.

Trustee President John Slater said he and township police chief and zoning inspector Paula Greene would attend.

"We'd like to come up with some sort of plan," said Hebron Village Administrator Mike Mc- Farland Wednesday. Between flooding and accidents, the stretch of I-70 that passes just south of Hebron is closed fairly frequently. When it's closed, the highway's prodigious traffic is detoured to US 40, and straight through downtown Hebron. "You can't dump this on Hebron without some sort of plan," said McFarland. "It's not just ODOT. There are lots of things that can shut down the interstate."

Accidents, hazardous material spills, snow storms, and a myriad of other problems in addition to flooding "have sent thousands of vehicles off of I-70 into creeping lines from one end of our town to the other," said Mason in his invitation to the meeting.

When this happens, the Hebron police force is quickly overwhelmed with traffic issues and fire and EMS services may be cut off from people who need them. On one occasion, said Mason, school buses could not reach the elementary school students and the children were stranded until late in the evening. Mason said that recently a truck caught in US 40 detour traffic ran out of gas, blocking traffic flow for hours. He said he realizes events will occur to close I-70 and US 40 through Hebron is the most convenient and accessible alternative.

Mason also knows the village's calls for assistance from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, ODOT District 5, and the Licking County Sheriff's Officet do not go unheard, but these agencies sometime have difficulty providing support. "They cover a wide area and may not be able to respond quickly, or perhaps not at all," said Mason. He's grateful for the assistance they do provide, but there is no formal plan in place to deal with I-70 closures. "The Village of Hebron is my primary concern, but I have to believe other communities suffer the same fate" when interstate traffic is rerouted, said Mason.

In other Union Township news:

• Canyon Road resident Arnold Smith thanked the trustees for having the township install a pipe in a ditch to help control flooding near his home, but the ditch is still flooding beyond the end of the new pipe.

"So, we've helped the ditch, we've just moved the problem downstream," said Slater.

Smith agreed, adding that there's no stench to the water flowing from the pipe.

Slater said the new pipe probably should've been installed a little higher in the soil to allow for "free pour." Someone from the township would take a look at it, get an opinion, and "go from there." Smith seemed satisfied with Slater's response.

• Trustee Jack Justice said that with the Lakewood School District's help, trustees mailed individual certificates to the coaching staff and members of the Lady Lancers softball team, congratulating them for being 2008 Division III state softball champions.

• Justice said Dewmar Drive has "stabilized considerably." The trustees heard a complaint from Dewmar Drive resident Dwight Smith, who said during the previous trustees meeting that chip and seal work on his cul-de-sac was so bad it represented a safety hazard for motorcycles. At first there was excess gravel on top of the tar that caused his motorcycle to lose grip on the road, then the gravel was gone, leaving thick tar that was just as bad.

Justice said gravel was added to the problem spots, which evened out the tar. "I think we've got that situation pretty well under control," he said.

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