Marietta River Trail still closed; residents concerned about safety

WTAP News @ 11 - River Trail closure poses safety concerns for locals
Published: Jan. 10, 2021 at 11:52 PM EST
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The newest portion of the River Trail in Marietta is still shut down. This poses serious concerns for locals.

The city of Marietta poured over $2 million into the Ohio River Access Trail, but a portion of it collapsed in early June, and the trail has been closed to the public ever since.

Roger Kalter, a former city councilman and a bicylcing enthusiast, said this poses a bigger problem than a loss of a bike-friendly trail. People without cars who used the trail to safely access grocery stores and work now must walk on the side of state Route 7, he said.

“Because I’ve ridden around for 65 years, I know how to get around Marietta,” he said. “ I can get anywhere here, but I can tell you, I’ve ridden five times out on Route 7 where human beings are having to walk now to get to their jobs or to go to the grocery, and it is very very dangerous. You’ve got tractor trailers running just a few feet from you.”

Kalter is not alone in his concerns.

Brian Palmer once relied heavily on the trail to get to work. He now has to catch rides with friends until his car is fixed. He’s had to walk the road a few times, and said it wasn’t worth it. Palmer said he had had to swerve around people on the side of Route 7 to give them more room.

“I feel like it’s a little bit dangerous and a slight risk that makes me a little bit nervous for them,” he said.

Palmer has noticed increased foot traffic alongside the road since June.

Marietta Mayor Josh Schlicher said people will have to rely on bus lines and other forms of public transit for now.

“We’ve been dealing with pedestrians completely ignoring the warning signs which then just creates another hazard and safety issue for them,” he said.

Most likely, the trail will not be done this year. There is also not currently a timeline, Schlicher said, because of the wait for forensic engineering information.

On top of the trail being restored, the city is dealing with the aftermath of a sewer line being crushed in the collapse. A temporary bypass is currently in place, and the mayor said the crushed line has not caused sewage to get into water streams.

There was, however, run-off into nearby waters when someone stole a battery from the line a few months ago. However, that issue has been taken care of and there is no further leakage, Schlicher said.

At one point, it cost $300 a day to bypass the crushed line, but the cost has since gone done, Schlicher said.

Multiple engineering firms, a geotech team, the Ohio Department of Transportation and others have been helped with the aftermath of the collapse.

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