Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 10:37
Most residents are relieved their homes will not be threatened by projects to address an eroding slope between two roadways and the Maumee River, though one homeowner still asserts that the problem does not exist.
|Motorists travel Wednesday near the Ohio 64/65 split, where ODOT is planning work. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Ohio Department of Transportation announced this week that it would install roadside retaining walls rather than relocate Ohio 64/65 between Reitz Road and the Waterville bridge, and Ohio 65 between Weston Road and Ohio 235. The projects will have the least impact on residents of several options presented at a meeting last month, as the walls will require some right-of-way acquisition but call for no homes to be torn down.
Jason Golba, whose home would have been demolished for Ohio 64/65 relocation, said he was relieved that his own property would not be taken, but he expressed concern for several neighbors who likely won’t be as fortunate.
The Ohio 64/65 retaining wall is designed along the edge of property owned by George Thompson and Carl Hudecek. Even if it’s a relatively small amount, Golba said property taken along the roadway could significantly decrease the value of the rest of the parcels.
“We don’t know exactly what wall will look like, but (Hudecek will) lose all the frontage on his land,” Golba said. “Riverfront land with no access loses its residential value.”
Hudecek, who said he’s lived in the area for 29 years, maintains that any slope erosion is negligible, making any project unnecessary.
“If anybody went and walked that hillside, you can see the stability of it,” he said, claiming damage to the slope was done not by erosion but rather ODOT trucks when workers installed instruments to measure it.
“I didn’t like these options in the first place,” Hudecek said. “There certainly doesn’t have to be a retaining wall put there. All hell’s going to break loose if they enter my property to do that kind of work.”
The Ohio 65 relocation would have included the demolition of Dr. E. Dorinda Shelley’s 181-year-old house, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Shelley and other residents submitted written comments to ODOT to save her home and their own, and it appears as though they had an impact as the agency chose its “preferred alternatives.”
At the meeting, road relocation was presented as the best option because of its lower cost relative to the retaining walls. Ohio 65 resident Mike Androvich, who stood to lose his leach field if relocation was selected, questioned the estimates used to determine the cost, particularly the amounts homeowners would receive for their property.
Several assessments would have determined actual figures if relocation was chosen, but $250,000 was estimated to be given to Shelley for the historic home she purchased in 1989 for $245,000.
ODOT spokesperson Theresa Pollick did not indicate what led to retaining walls ultimately being selected as the best option, noting that all factors were considered, including submitted public comments.
It’s unclear how much property ODOT will need to acquire to install the walls. Primary designs indicate some frontage being taken to install a temporary lane to maintain traffic in both directions during construction.
Shelley remains concerned that the temporary lane would call for an old brick wall and long-standing trees along the road to be demolished. But selection of the retaining wall option was still welcome news.
“I’m very, very relieved,” she said. “That was a big load off my shoulders.”
Androvich echoed her excitement and expressed hope that ODOT would be open to closing at least one lane during construction to further minimize land acquisition.
“I was jumping up and down when I heard,” he said. “It’s hard to quantify how happy we are.”