By DAVID KRIER
Drivers traveling between Boscobel and Steuben will face detours over the next two weeks as County E is closed for construction from Shockley Hill to Pleasant Mound Road and beyond. Work on the project began Monday, with Pustina Construction of Cobb as the general contractor.
The work entails safety improvements at the Pleasant Mound and Plainview Road intersections with County E.
“This is an internal county safety project to improve sight distances at some bad intersections,” said Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock.
Safety work on County E in the Shockley Hill area will continue next year. That work will entail widening the shoulders on County E for a three-mile stretch in Marietta Township between Highway 60 and Pleasant Mound Road. Heavy rains in recent years have resulted in numerous landslides and slide-off accidents there. Next year guard rails and a more abrasive surface will be added to help keep vehicles from sliding off.
The federal High Risk Rural Road Program will pay $560,000 of the cost, with Crawford County paying an estimated $62,000, plus design costs estimated at $30,000.
Pelock said that bridge work is needed and overdue in Crawford County, but that funding is a problem.
“It used to be that federal funds used to pay 80 percent of the cost for work on any county bridges 20 feet and longer, but that’s no longer the case since they can’t stop fighting in Washington,” Pelock said. “They used to pass a six-year transportation budget, but now they’re more like three months of six months.”
Pelock estimates that there are 17 deficient bridges in need of replacement, with that number expected to increase to 22 by 2017. That does not include the more than 20 bridges under 20 feet in length that need to be replaced.
At their April 21 meeting, the Crawford County Board rejected borrowing $425,000 to reconstruct four defective bridges in the county. Still, Pelock would like to see the highest priority bridge replaced at an estimated cost of $194,000. That bridge is located on County C in the town of Freeman over a branch of Sugar Creek.
The second priority bridge is on County S in the towns of Seneca and Haney over a branch of Halls Branch Creek. It was damaged in an accident and there is a pending insurance claim of $182,082 that would be paid to the county. There is no DOT funding for the project, which has a cost estimate of $295,000.
The other two bridges are located on County B in the town of Utica over Conway Valley Creek and on County C in the village of Soldiers Grover over Johnson Creek.