Harmar removed from seismic mapping project

The route of a seismic mapping project originally slated to pass through Marietta’s Harmar district and along Putnam Street has been changed to follow Ohio 7 through town, according to city officials.

“We’ve been listening and have heard people’s concerns about the proposed route, so the mayor and safety-service director have talked to the contractor and they were able to change the route,” city council president Walt Brothers said Wednesday.

“The trucks won’t pass through the historic Harmar district or along Putnam Street at all,” said safety-service director Jonathan Hupp.

He said the new route will follow the Ohio 7 north truck route across the Washington Street Bridge to Third Street, then right on Third to Greene Street and left on Greene Street to Pike Street where the trucks will proceed out of town along Ohio 7.

“This route is bound to work out better, and it will be a lot less intrusive,” said Mayor Joe Matthews.

The work is to be done between July 1 and 3, depending on weather conditions.

Steve McCrossin, president of Precision Geophysical Inc., the Millersburg-based company that has contracted with oil and gas companies to do the seismic mapping project, said taking the new route won’t affect the underground mapping data being collected.

“I think this will also be an easier route to maintain local traffic flow,” he said. “Technically it won’t matter. We’ll still be able to get good data.”

McCrossin said the company and city officials took a hard look at the proposed route that would have moved the two seismic vibration-generating trucks onto Lord Street, then along Barber Avenue, Elm Street and Harmar Street in the Harmar district before traveling across the Putnam Bridge to Putnam and Seventh streets and continuing north on Pike Street to Ohio 7.

“We’re a local company and want to make sure this project is operated in a safe manner so there’s not a lot of disturbance,” he said.

The seismic vibration vehicles are driven about 1 mph along local streets, and at regular intervals a large vibrating metal disk is lowered to the road surface from the trucks’ undercarriages. The disk creates vertical underground seismic waves that are used to develop 2- and 3-dimensional maps exploring rock and shale formations for oil and gas companies.

A similar seismic mapping process in July 2012 by Tidelands Geological Company (TGC) of Plano, Texas, was reportedly felt in homes and businesses along the route. But McCrossin said the mapping that will occur July 1-3 will not use the high force vibrations TGC generated, and will be a much gentler process.

The 2012 project was recalled by Washington Street resident Barbara Stewart during last week’s meeting of Marietta City Council.

“It felt like an earthquake at our house,” she said, noting the seismic vibrations caused a cup to fall off a table inside her 210 Washington St. home.

“I’m opposing these seismic mapping trucks coming into Marietta again,” she said. “And I do not understand how a private company can come to town and use our streets for this purpose.”

Stewart said the project puts city water lines and other antiquated infrastructure at risk.

Hupp said the city administration could have refused to allow Precision Geophysical to conduct the seismic mapping in town, but he was assured by McCrossin that the process would be using much less intrusive equipment than TGC used a year ago.

“They wanted to obtain a good picture of the underground formations in Marietta, and we did not want to cause interference with their business as the city has been accused in the past of not being business-friendly,” he said.

Karen Prigge, who lives along the newly planned seismic mapping route at 519 Third St., said she has no concerns, adding that she found last year’s mapping by TGC entertaining.

“We enjoyed watching it,” she said. “I sat with some tea out on the front porch and watched for it. It was something we’d never seen before.”

Prigge said there was no shaking of her home, nor of the house the Prigges own next door.

Neighbor Jeff Cordell, at 533 Third St., said vibrations from heavy trucks moving along the roadway can sometimes be felt inside his home.

“Sometimes they wake us up when we’re sleeping,” he said. “I was probably not home last year when the seismic trucks came through, but there was nothing damaged in our house.”

Charles Wedekamm who lives at 200 Washington St. expressed some concern about the seismic mapping trucks passing his home.

“It’s just a theory, but I believe the rock in the ground beneath this house could have a small fault line in it,” he said, noting vibrations from trucks coming off the nearby Washington Street Bridge can be felt inside his double-brick-walled home.

“I’ve done a lot of work on this house, and I don’t like it that I wasn’t given a choice in this project,” Wedekamm added.