On a normal day, driving through downtown Portsmouth is a frustrating endeavor. Drive a block, stop at a red light; drive another block, stop at another red light. It goes on and on. However on Monday, things went from bad to worse, when motorists coming West on U.S. 52 (12th Street) could not get onto Chillicothe Street because traffic was backed up all the way to the Scioto Trail Viaduct. If you could get onto Chillicothe, you were immediately routed one block to 11th Street where you found yourself headed back in the same direction you just came from.
“It was so bad yesterday (Monday) that we sent police out to try to help expedite traffic,” Portsmouth City Manager Derek. K. Allen said. “It was when it was backing up, so we did that yesterday, but that wasn’t because the contractor, ODOT asked us. We just noticed that it was that bad.”
The traffic pattern didn’t get much better on Tuesday, though you were at least able to drive on Chillicothe Street if you could get to it.
The problem was caused by the inconvenience of the paving project on U.S. 52 by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Portsmouth City Allen talked about the “catch 22” of people wanting the roads to be smooth and becoming upset with the process that it takes to get there. Allen said there is always a pre-construction meeting between the city and ODOT surrounding how traffic will be maintained.
“I didn’t go to the pre-construction meeting on the 52 paving because I had a (scheduling) conflict,” Allen said. “They (ODOT) don’t ask us on how to maintain traffic. That’s between them and the contractor.”
Kathleen Fuller, Public Information Officer for ODOT District 9 said meetings are held in many of the projects depending on the situation.
“When we have a project that we’re doing, villages and cities are different,” Fuller said. “Anything on the state if it’s inside the city, we go to the city with legislation. We have an agreement because sometimes there’s a local match on the funding for one thing for the urban paving project that we do.”
As traffic snarled on 11th Street Tuesday, Ray Pyles was cutting his grass.
“I went to Krogers yesterday, and with this work, I had to drive around about three or four extra miles to get there, but I don’t care because when they get done, we’ll have a real nice road,” Pyles said.
The Daily Times asked our Facebook followers to comment on the possible inconveniences caused by the project.
Jarrod Reed said – “All the road work is a pain in the neck.” Kelly Montavon was a little more vocal – “It sucks and there is construction everywhere!!” but Kevin Kennedy took another approach – “They should quit working on the roads, they are fine.”
Chad Benner put it all in perspective – “We aren’t allowed to have an opinion it seems. If we are frustrated by it, people say, ‘then don’t complain when the roads are bad! It’s progress!’ If we are positive about it, people say, ‘what’s good about it? They shouldn’t do it all at once! It takes me forever to get anywhere!’ Thus, this is the new America.; “You can have an opinion as long as it lines up with mine.”
Fuller said there is always a discussion so that there is a clear understanding of what will be required to maintaibn traffic in the project zone.
‘That information is shared with the city and we try, of course, through our planning process in which each program that we do, we roll that information out to the public in a lot of different formats,” Fuller said.
Fuller went on to say, for every project of that magnitude a public meeting is held, but typically people do not attend those meetings. She said the project is expected to be completed by the first of October.
Joann Keeton, commenting of Facebook, said – “I’m just happy that the road’s are geting fixed way past due.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.