Dutch Creek Residents Petition For Road Repairs

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Petitions with signatures of more than 60 residents and property owners on Dutch Creek Road have been presented to the Athens County Commissioners in an effort to get road and bridge improvements.

A half dozen residents, with Butch Mitchell as their spokesman, met with the commissioners Thursday, a meeting also attended by County Engineer Jeff Maiden.

Mitchell said the residents would like to see the road paved, but presented the commissioners with a list of other improvements that could be made in lieu of paving. Those included:

• Improving the road base.
• Increasing the size and capacity of road ditches and drainage.
• Maintaining road crowns and berms.
• Replacing undersized Civilian Conservation Corps.-era bridges.
• Channeling Dutch Creek away from the road bed.
• Improving the intersection with Route 550.

Also on the list were reducing the speed limits and helping and advising homeowners on improving driveway approaches.

There are issues with mud, dust, ruts, washboarding and potholes, Mitchell said.

“Drive down my road when it is 100 degrees in August and you will not be able to breathe because of the dust,” one woman told the commissioners.

Another property owner commented that you can tell when Dutch Creek Road residents are at Kroger because their vehicles are covered with either mud or dust.

Mitchell said an issue with part of the road is that it sits low and the berms are high, the result being that it doesn’t drain properly — which Maiden said is true.

“We have a road that essentially is a floodway,” Maiden said. “The solution is a multi-million dollar solution.”

Maiden said that as a private engineer he recommended to Athens County Engineer’s Department 17 years ago that a section of the road be moved to higher ground.

That would be costly, he said, and lack of money is also an issue with replacing the bridges. Maiden said Athens County has the worst collection of bridges in Ohio, and he said there are many that are in worse condition than those on Dutch Creek Road.

“It’s going to take money to do it, and we don’t have the money,” Maiden said, noting that passage of an additional 1 percent sales tax would help.

Maiden said the engineer’s department does patching on the road, and since Dec. 1 has put 380 tons of stone on the road.

“We’re out there working, we’re trying to deal with the situation,” Maiden said.

The problem with putting stone on the road is that it just washes away, residents said.

They said that Dutch Creek Road is one of the oldest roads in the county, and was originally built as a one-lane road that is now being utilized as a two-lane road. Resident Wenda Sheard asked that one of the bridges be marked as a one-lane bridge.

Another issue is damage done by loggers, residents said.

They asked if grant funding might be available because of the historic nature of the road. It was originally a cobble road that is a former stage coach route, and was utilized by the Underground Railroad, they said.“We can look into that,” Maiden said.

Commission President Lenny Eliason said the commissioners could write a letter to the Ohio Department of Transportation to see if ODOT can make improvements to the Route 550 intersection. Eliason cautioned against rerouting the creek, saying that would involve the Army Corps of Engineers and be a major undertaking.

Maiden, who said he’s already looked at the road numerous times, offered to meet with the residents to view the road and discuss the issues further.