BUCKEYE LAKE – Rarely do people wish for a deep freeze, but sustained colder weather would really help progress on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ South Fork Licking River Channel Improvement project. “A lot of what they’ve been doing is removing snow so the ground will freeze and dry,” said Matt Eiselstein, ODNR Deputy Chief of Communications. Workers are dealing with a sea of mud along the river as temperatures rise above freezing.
The long delayed project, whose physical work began in November, is retur ning conditions in the Ohio 79/ Ohio 360 area to those existing prior to the construction of the Seller’s Point spillway. The spillway addressed f looding problems along the South Bank but the additional water flowing out of Buckeye Lake into the South Fork of the Licking River aggravated flooding in the Ohio 360/Buckeye Lake Village area where the South Fork loops as it turns north toward Newark.
Approximately 3.3 miles of the South Fork is being widened, significantly increasing its carrying capacity during storm events. Its additional capacity will offset the additional flow over the spillway from Buckeye Lake. Channel widening begins at the Seller’s Point Spillway Outlet and extends north to the Ohio 79 bridge north of I-70. ODN R spokesperson Elisha Ehnes said the project includes 295,000 cubic yards of excavation, 92,500 cubic yards of embankment construction, and the placement of 13,000 tons of aggregate base course for a maintenance berm. Excess soil quantities will be disposed of off-site at an approved location. In addition, the project includes clearing, grubbing and offsite disposal of all trees, limbs, stumps and woody debris in the work area, 142,000 square yards of planting soil stabilization and 51 acres of revegetation. T his project requi res the installation of various storm drainage culverts, replacement of impacted subsurface drainage conduits, implementation of temporary erosion and sediment controls, and the placement of 395 cubic yards of grouted waterway bank protection under the Interstate 70 bridge.
Additionally, the project includes the removal of trees, beaver dams and other impediments to the flow of water within the outfall channel of the Sellers Point Spillway.
Last September, Union Township trustees wrote State Senator Tim Shaffer asking for his help in asking ODNR to extend the project approximately 200 yards downstream to remove a log jam roughly 175 feet by 75 feet. “If the project is completed without removing this log jam, we believe the project’s success may be jeopardized,” trustees wrote. Hebron Village Council members made the same request.
The logjam was discovered during a pre-river round-up tour Aug. 4. ODNR officials inspected the logjam and agreed to its removal.
Ehnes said the project includes the removal of two additional log jams (one 6 feet tall, 40 feet wide and 100 feet long, and another one 12 feet tall, 80 feet wide and 140 feet long) located immediately south of the original project limits in the South Fork Licking River channel.
Eiselstein said workers have removed some of the logjams, but work continues. He said work would progress more quickly after a sustained freeze, because the ground along the banks of the river is very muddy, causing heavy contstruction machinery to get bogged down.
Eiselstein said next week work will begin below I-70, but will not affect traffic flow at all. Crews are making their way toward Seller’s Point.
ODNR’s contract with Mark Haynes Construction, Inc. requires the work to be finished by the end of this year. Eiselstein said weather will determine how long the project would really take to complete.