Road slips become a growing concern

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County Engineer James Branagan told the county commissioners on Thursday there are more road slips this year due to the near record-setting rainfall.

Commissioners agreed to advertise for bids on behalf of the engineer’s department to fix slips on county Roads 72 and 74. The project is estimated to cost $121,043.

Branagan said the year started with flooding rains in February, resulting in the state and federal emergency management agencies declaring a disaster and agreeing to provide funding to make repairs to roads.

The heavy rains continued to fall throughout the year, and Branagan said there are about a dozen slips on county roads. He noted some of the slips will cost more than $200,000 to fix. Branagan said he is watching other cracks in the pavement, which indicate a slip is beginning. Once the pavement drops, Branagan said he then has to design a slip repair.

The county has to make repairs first before being reimbursed by FEMA, causing a cash-flow problem for the department going into the end of the year, according to Branagan.

He noted there were disasters declared in 2004 and 2005 because of flooding rains, and about 60 slips had to be repaired as a result.

Paving work this year had to be scaled back because of the money that had to be put into fixing slips, he added.

Above-normal rainfall, type of soil and terrain lead to slips, and the water-logged clay soil gets too heavy and begins to move down a hillside, resulting in a dip in the road surface, according to the county engineer.

Commissioners authorized McKinley & Associates of Wheeling, the county’s architectural consultant, to do an analysis on building walls between the section for boys and girls at the juvenile detention center. The pods currently aren’t separated, and Juvenile Judge Joseph Corabi said it could lead to liability issues.

In other matters, it was noted the commissioners will meet in special session at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss options for employee health insurance programs for next year.

Also, commissioners proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month. County Job and Family Services has overseen six adoptions so far this year, with six more pending. Elizabeth Ferron, job and family services director, said there has been an increase in children placed into the agency’s custody due to the opioid epidemic.

Commissioners announced the meeting the week of Thanksgiving will be held at 9 a.m. on Nov. 21. The courthouse will be closed Nov. 22-23 for Thanksgiving. There will be no meeting the week of Christmas, and the courthouse will be closed Dec. 24-25.