More than a year after a hillside collapsed, closing traffic lanes and causing an overhead sign to fall, a project to repair Interstate 70 just east of St. Clairsville will conclude next week.
On May 29, 2012, a steep roadside embankment along the westbound lanes of the highway slipped, prompting officials to close two of three westbound lanes. Cassie Bast, project engineer, said the slope failure resulted because water from a drainage culvert had washed portions of the hillside away.
To correct the problem, workers in February began constructing a drilled shaft retaining wall to the north of the roadway just east of exit 220. The wall is complete, but one westbound lane remains closed.
Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough
Workers use heavy equipment to move culvert sections into place along Interstate 70 just east of exit 220 in Belmont County as part of a slip repair project.
The underground drainage system was also modified, diverting the culvert to the south side of the road where no downward slope exists. Eastbound traffic has been restricted to one lane during this work.
Ohio-West Virginia Excavating of Powhatan Point has served as the Ohio Department of Transportation's contractor for the $2 million job.
Bast said the entire project will be completed sometime next week, depending on weather conditions. Project Foreman Travis Fogle said crews still must complete construction of the median wall in the project area, replace the fallen sign and power wash the new retaining wall.
Bast noted that workers have had one concern throughout the entire project - careless drivers.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper has been stationed in the restricted eastbound lanes while crews have been working on the south side of the roadway. Bast said this is due to the fact that motorists have failed to heed the reduced speed limit in the area.
"Safety is our top priority," she said, pointing to multiple sets of skid marks visible in the work zone.
In at least one case, she said, troopers cited a driver for traveling 81 mph in the work zone. The speed limit on that section of I-70 normally is 65 mph; it has been reduced to 55 mph during the work, with a lighted sign west of exit 220 warning motorists to slow down and pay attention to the workers ahead.