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Home owners say truck traffic is to blame for sewer problem

By Carol McIntire

Town Hill curve
Don Lucas stands on what is left of his front yard at the family residence on E. Main St., Carrollton, as a semi truck rounds the turn where the bank and stone wall have been torn away by trucks hitting it.

Don and Lydia Lucas have lived in their home at 351 E. Main St., Carrollton, for 30 years.

In 28 and a-half years, they have not experienced any problems with the sewer line, which is buried under their front yard. Their children and grandchildren played in the front yard and they could walk down the steps from their front yard to the street.

All that changed about 18 months ago when traffic increased on E. Main St. in front of their home.  Don said when traffic increased and wide loads began traveling around the curve in front of his home, they began hitting and chipping away at a stone wall that stood along the road in front of his home since before he purchased the property.

“Slowly, the stones disappeared and then three of the five steps that lead up to our yard and the railing beside them were gone,” Don said while standing in his “much smaller” front yard last week.

“Some of the trucks hit the wall and dirt so hard the house shakes,” added Lydia.” And, if a truck is traveling in each direction and they meet right in front of the house, the westbound truck hits the wall really hard,” added Don. “It happens at least once every night.”

Don said he previously mowed the grass along the steps down to the where the wall was located, but now he’s wary of mowing close to the edge for fear it might fall in.

The edge of the front yard is littered with debris off the wall and, in several areas, sod hangs over an edge where the dirt underneath has eroded away. He tried to keep the stones cleaned up off the roadway, but has given up the effort. “It’s impossible to keep it cleaned up,” he said.

“We can’t even allow the grandchildren to play out here anymore. Years ago, the mailman crossed the street, used our steps and delivered mail on this side of the street,” Lydia said looking around the yard.

They have watched as their front yard has been chipped away, a piece at a time. Don estimates the roadway is about 15 feet from his front porch, maybe a little less. They aren’t angry about the roadway, but are unhappy about the sewer problem they say has been caused by the situation.

In the past year and a half, the couple has paid a contactor to “snake” the sewer line four times. The cost for the service is nearly the $300 mark.

“We never had this problem before,” Don said. “Isn’t it funny how it appears since the wall is gone, the edge of the road is gone and the pavement is cracking? Trucks are driving on the edge, which is bound to move the earth underneath”

 “We didn’t have the problem before the situation with the traffic and wall began and we believe they are tied together.”

Don and Lydia have attended meetings of Carrollton Council explaining their situation and asking for help.

Don said Mayor Frank Leghart is “trying” to resolve the issue.

“Following the last council meeting they ran a camera through the line and told us the problem was our responsibility; that the line had been repaired at some point and that is where the problem is,” Don said. “We haven’t repaired the line in the 30 years we’ve been here, so if it was repaired, it was before that. Strange there hasn’t been problem in all those years and now, suddenly, there is a problem.”

He walked off the distance from the tattered earthen bank to where he was told the problem lies underground. “About four feet,” he said. “Look how close it is. You can’t tell me those heavy trucks aren’t moving the dirt and causing the problem.”

“We are going to do what we have to do,” said Mayor Leghart when contacted about the situation. “The wall has been there over 70 years and has been hit, but not to the extent it is now.”

Leghart said after using the camera to view the inside of the sewer line, he determined the problem is not related to the wall problem. “The problem is where the line was repaired and the material used to make the repair. The pipe shifted on one end and disrupted the flow through the pipe.”

Leghart said he and representative of Chesapeake Energy stood across the street from the home for 45 minutes one day and not a single truck hit the wall.

“Chesapeake said they are willing to help, but don’t feel they should pay the entire bill because they are not the only ones responsible,” Leghart noted.

He said he contacted Anna Kuzmich, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Statewide Shale Coordinator, and was told, although E. Main St. is a state highway, it is within the village limits and the village is responsible for repairs.

Leghart said he also spoke with State Representative Andy Thompson about the matter.

The Free Press Standard contacted Vince Carter, superintendent of the Carroll County ODOT garage, who said he offered the support of ODOT in any way possible.

“I talked to the engineering department at the district office (New Philadelphia) so I would be able to tell the mayor who to contact, but haven’t heard back from him,” Carter said.

“I’m not going to sit in the front yard to see whose owns the trucks that hit the wall to see who is responsible for repairing it,” Lucas said. “We believe the sewer problem is from the increase in truck traffic moving the dirt and the sewer pipe. We would just like someone to repair it.”

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