Making way for the new highway


By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) along with representatives from the Portsmouth Gateway Group held a public meeting Wednesday to discuss upcoming blasting operations, associated with construction of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway.

Officials with the project estimate there will be an estimated 400 semi-truck loads of explosives used and there will be 260 miles of holes drilled for blasting.

“Currently the blasting consultant is performing pre-blast surveys. Those happen before the blasting will start in any particular area,” said Tom Barnitz, Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway project manager for ODOT.

Pre-blast surveys are conducted for homes within a 1,500 yard radius of the blast zone.

“They (Sauls Seismic, LLC) have a consultant that comes and interviews the folks and takes pictures of their homes inside and out. (They do this) to establish a baseline on the homes condition, so if there is any potential damage in the future caused by the blasting. Both parties have a good understanding what the condition was prior,” Barnitz said.

There is no damage planned, because of strict engineering that’s been done.

“There are lots of protections and measures in place to keep the blasting to a controlled level,” Barnitz said. “When the blasts do occur they will be setting out seismographs, so they can detect the amount of vibrations that’s happening.”

He said the blasting will start in the next two to four weeks and will last through 2017.

“They will be blasting one time a day, and sometimes twice a day, only during the day shift,” Barnitz said.

The project has been broken into four different segments, with multiple blasting crews.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 24 for the project. When asked about the overall project progress, Barnitz said, “Things are going very well, we had deal with a spot of rain a few weeks ago that seemed like it was not going to quit. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had drier weather and things are really starting to pick up.”

The project is a 16-mile, limited access, four-lane highway that will bypass about 26 miles of U.S. 52 and U.S. 23 in Portsmouth. Once completed, ODOT estimates it will reduce travel time by 16 minutes compared to the alternative routes in the area. The target completion date is December 2018.

For more information about the Portsmouth Gateway Group visit,

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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