Helping Fund Road Repairs

Groans and gripes about the condition of many area roads are heard frequently. But when a school bus driver worries aloud about them, it is time for someone to do something about the problem.

It happened last week during a Martins Ferry City Council meeting. Councilman Bruce Shrodes, who drives a school bus, complained about two roads: Ohio 647 and Alumni Road. They are “accidents waiting to happen,” he said.

Both situations involve damage that has made one lane of pavement dangerous for motorists. As a result, they must cross over into the other lane to get past the hazardous section.

That, too, is dangerous, Shrodes commented. It creates a possibility of hitting an oncoming vehicle head-on.

Both sections of road should be repaired or closed, Shrodes advised. Otherwise, he said, “we’re going to have a serious accident. That’s where the kids go to school. That’s where the buses go.”

Service Director Scott Porter said that although Ohio 647 is a state highway, the damaged section of it lies within city limits. For that reason, state Department of Transportation officials maintain repairs — at an estimated cost of $400,000 — are the city’s responsibility.

Alumni Road also requires major repairs, Porter added.

Bad winter weather, flooding and heavy energy industry trucks have wrecked many roads in both East Ohio and the Northern Panhandle.

In Ohio, an increase in vehicle fuel taxes should provide more money for repairs, but it will be some time in coming. The two Martins Ferry roads need action soon.

Gov. Mike DeWine already has declared parts of East Ohio disaster areas, as a result of weather-related damage. During last week’s council meeting, it was noted the governor may extend his declaration to include the affected area of Ohio 647.

DeWine should do that immediately, perhaps making it possible for Martins Ferry to obtain federal disaster relief funding to repair the road.

Surely somewhere in Columbus and/or Washington, there are programs that can help Martins Ferry cope with the two dangerous roads. State and federal officials should be enlisted to find those funding sources and get the needed funds to the city so repairs can be made.

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