Falling Boulders Pose Threat for Motorists and Pedestrians

Large boulders are tumbling off a hillside near Bridgeport, landing dangerously close to not only vehicles traveling on Ohio 7, but a sidewalk used daily by pedestrians.

This is the same hillside where a landslide occurred several years ago. During that event, rocks and mud covered the sidewalk area, located between downtown Bridgeport and Aetnaville. It took several months for crews to cleanup the area, and the hillside also was cutback to prevent more slides.

However, rocks are starting to fall again – and some of the boulders are quite large. At least two of the rocks are about as long as a compact car.

Becky Giauque, Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said ODOT officials in Belmont County already were aware of the falling rocks. However, since the area lies within Bridgeport city limits, it was up to village officials to deal with it.

“It doesn’t sound like any recent activity,” Giauque said. “They said those same ones have been down for a long time.”

Bridgeport Mayor John Callarik said he also believed the rocks had fallen sometime ago. However, he said he was not aware that some rocks had landed just a couple feet from Ohio 7.

“If whole hillside slipped down, the state would have to get involved. They kind of leave that up to the village. They won’t do anything unless it’s an emergency deal,” Callarik said.

Callarik said if it appeared some of the rocks needed move out of people’s way, the village would do so. He said he planned to take a look this morning.

“That hill slipped years ago. It’s been a long time. … It closed the road and took out power lines. It had to be cut way back – the state came in and did it,” he said.

However, Giauque said the DOT was not directly involved with the cleanup.

“We did not do the landslide repair. It was funded when flooding occurred. It was included with those projects. ODOT may have administered the contract, but it was not state dollars. Legally it’s (Bridgeport’s) responsibility. ODOT can’t spend state dollars inside the village. … It can spend money on state routes and U.S. routes outside of municipalities,” Giauque said.