GALLIPOLIS — During the recent Gallipolis City Commission meeting, commissioners heard about a few mud slips residents are dealing with in the city.
Richard Gardener and Pamela Conley, Gallipolis residents, attended the meeting to inform the commission of a slip causing issues accessing their properties above State Street.
Gardner said a project was done in 2020, one completed by the Ohio Department of Transportation in an effort to reopen 588 and that Gardner had to sign a “right of entry” “with the promise and map showing that this section that slipped would be included in the project to repair, only to be left out once the funds from FEMA had been obtained.”
Gardner had a map showing the commissioners the work area boundaries, including his and Conley’s properties.
City Manager Dow Saunders has been to the properties a couple of times since the slip to monitor the issue.
Gardner said the area that is slipping now, was promised to be included in the area fixed.
The work began in the fall of 2020 and Gardner said he quickly noticed the construction area was not going over far enough and he started asking questions.
Gardner said the geotech engineer who cut the section out, inspected the slides on what was fixed and when asked what would happen, he had no answer for Gardner.
“I said, well, you can see that it is starting to slip,” Gardner said. “But they maintain that District 10 in Marietta, that nothing they did, at all, would affect my property.”
Gardner said the property started to slip at the end of February of 2022.
“As a matter of fact, it’s continuing to slip. It’s dropped the last week, another five feet,” Gardner said.
Gardner said even if someone could pay to have the slip fixed, not many are answering the phone or wants to take on the project.
The latest email from Marietta informed Gardner that private property is not something they fix.
Conley said not only is she concerned her driveway is not usable, but there is no way for emergency services to get to them if needed.
“The only way I have to get out at all is to walk through [a neighbor’s] field and then back and it’s like a half a mile walk,” Conley said. “To try to carry groceries and stuff, we’ve been out once in the last month, to try and bring back five or six bags of groceries. We’re feeling pretty helpless.”
Conley said they are stuck not knowing what to do, as getting an easement is not going anywhere.
Since the driveway covered by the slip is private, the city is unable to do much.
“There is wording in that permanent easement that says that I can’t even alter the slope of that piece of ground for five years,” Gardner said. “Well, it’s being altered anyway, by mother nature. So, my question, if I had a deep pocket, and went in there to do anything, what’s my liability?”
This is a question that no one has been able to answer for Gardner.
Gardner and Conley are also worried that if they tried to clear their driveway, more of the hillside would slip.
The slip had cracked more on Monday, the day of the commission meeting, Gardner said. He does not think it will be much longer before it will eventually be down into State Street.
Gardner said he understands Saunders cannot do much in his position, but he wants to keep communication open.
Craig Richards, of Burgess and Niple, came to the meeting to discuss an additional slip on Oakwood Drive.
“I’ve been here once myself, and we came back here a few weeks ago with our geotechnical engineer, [from] our Columbus office to get an idea of what it would take for us to do some preliminary engineering [and] provide a copy of that agreement,” Richards said.
Richards said due to the steepness of the terrain, “a little bit dangerous in front of that slide, or the backside of that slide, we’ve closed the ground to develop some topographic mapping.”
Right now what needs to be done can only be speculated, Richards said.
“Until we get some soil borings done, we core through that rock up there a couple locations,” Richards said. “But the fix, if there is a fix that’s feasible up there, it will be to preserve the road.”
Due to the steepness of the hill, it has been proposed to use a drone to do the surveying.
“We will do three full borings,” Richards said. “we expect we’re going to get rock about 10 feet deep, roughly. Our scope includes about 130 feet total rock quarries, we’re going to do one that’s at least 80 feet deep out there.”
Richards said the city will get a preliminary plan after the borings.
“We know based on what we’ve seen out there, it looks like you’ve got a landslide that’s already occurred and it might be moving up the slope,” Richards said. “But if you go further to the south, just a little bit to the south from where that rock has already peeled away, it was a good size crack, that you can see where it eventually is going to move and take out more of that hillside up there towards the south.
“What we will attempt to do, based on what the soil borings tell us, we attempt to possibly do this thing in phases,” Richards said. “Preserve what’s in the worst location, and then give you an estimate of what it may take to do it in a second phase if we can do that. So, the bottom line is we won’t know until we do this [work].”
Richards also said the quality of the rock is also unknown until the drilling is done.
Richards said the total project is an estimated $500,000. The drilling will cost around $22,000.
The Ohio Public Works Commission has an emergency grant fund with about $2.1 million, but Richards said the funds go fast at this time of year.
Richards presentation was to get the contract to the commission to review and potentially move forward.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.