Oak Grove detour

Coming and going from Oak Grove was no easy task Wednesday.

Work on the CSX railroad crossing near the intersection of County Road 4 and BF Goodrich Road, which started Wednesday and continues today, blocks the quickest route of travel between Oak Grove and downtown Marietta.

However, residents and employees in the area said they were given advanced warning about the project, and many said they planned for the delays and detours caused by the closing.

At the American Electric Power Service Center on BF Goodrich Road, supervisors spent the days leading up to the closure driving alternative routes so they would know how best to handle the two-day change, said AEP spokeswoman Fay White.

“It’s a little inconvenience, but it will be better for all when it’s done,” said White, relaying what she had been told by the location’s supervisor.

A representative from CSX did not return calls seeking comment this week. However, county highway superintendent Calvin Becker said the railroad company is replacing parts of the track and adding some pavement extensions to the crossing.

“It is somewhat in the order of what they recently did on the Washington Street Bridge,” he said.

CSX has been cooperative and communicative about the project, added Becker. Originally the work was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. However, CSX readily agreed to push the work back until after Tuesday’s election, said Becker.

The project is being funded by CSX, he added.

Lang’s Flooring owner Tony Lang said the closure means an additional 20 minutes travel time, but he was impressed by CSX’s communication about the project.

“The came into the office and they called me personally,” he said.

Lang said he warned delivery drivers to postpone deliveries until after the closure, but not all of them got the message.

Lang’s Flooring sales representative Darlene Young took it all in stride, calmly directing a tractor trailer to the business over the phone Wednesday morning.

“I was just on the phone with a truck driver helping direct him in here. He used to drive in New York City and he was having a heck of a time getting here this morning,” she laughed.

The closure meant extra semi truck traffic on the detour roads, said Hanson Drive resident Richard Sams, 67.

“There was a little extra traffic on Waterford Road (County Road 4), but it was pretty spread out,” said Sams.

The official detour took residents leaving Oak Grove out County Road 4 to St. John’s Road, to Ohio 676 and down Groves Avenue, he said.

However, Sams joked that he took the unofficial detour when leaving Oak Grove that morning, taking Waterford Road to the somewhat closer, if not more windy, Lang’s Farm Road, which also cuts across to Ohio 676.

“It’s probably about an extra five miles each way, but you can’t drive as fast,” said Sams of the detour.

Residents also had the option of traveling to Lowell on Muskingum River Road and crossing the Muskingum at New Bridge Street.

Either way, the detour meant a lengthy commute, said Oak Grove resident Pam Grimes, 66.

“You really have to back track,” said Grimes, who had no plans of traveling during the work.

The closure yesterday and today is the first time in Grimes’ 44 years of living in Oak Grove that she can recall the railroad crossing being closed at that location, she said.

The closing also meant the Marietta City school district split the bus route that typically services Oak Grove and the area toward Lowell, said facilities, transportation and safety director Dave Davis.

“We hired a sub and put an extra bus, dedicated to the Oak Grove area,” he said.

Hiring a substitute driver and paying for gas for the additional runs will likely cost the school district between $100 to $125 dollars both days, he estimated.

The bus for high school and middle school students began its morning route around 6 a.m. and a bus for elementary students began around 8 a.m. The evening bus will also make two trips into the area to drop off students during the closure, he said.

Davis estimated the buses, which detoured across Lang’s Farm Road, added an extra 20 minutes to students’ commute Wednesday morning.

Heavier traffic on the detour roads might make the evening drive home take longer, he speculated.

“I imagine everybody is gonna be slugging it out in the afternoon,” said Davis