The Ohio Department of Transportation’s wall next to State Route 750 has drawn concerns from Liberty Township residents since its installation. It has now drawn the attention of graffiti vandals who left a negative message for Donald Trump which has been covered until permanent solution can be reached.
Brian Helwig, resident of the township, approached trustees Monday evening about the look and safety of the wall, which was constructed this summer.
“I tried to work with one of the (ODOT) engineers to get an agenda together around what the concerns are in general. What we voted for verses what we got,” he said. “The side I’m facing is pink and it’s supposed to be a stonewall, which is what I voted for and what it is, is a big pink mess.”
The ODOT engineer’s response to Helwig was, “First of all it’s not your road,” Helwig said. “It’s not Liberty Township’s road and why should it be treated any differently than basically I-270 or I-70?”
Helwig said initially he was told the wall was a sound and safety barrier that would stop a car from coming through it. “It won’t,” he said. “On the other side of that wall are kids playing.”
According to Helwig, he was told the reason ODOT wasn’t using a different type of wall was because the road is not owned by Liberty Township or the City of Powell and there wasn’t a “restoration budget” to fix the issues. “What you see is what you get and good luck fixing everything else,” Helwig was told by the engineer.
“The state says they’re not treating it any different than I-70 because it’s not owned by anybody else other than them,” Helwig said.
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn told Helwig that Matt Huffman, township administrator, had looked into options for the wall. The first option was to tear it down.
“We found out that it was an extremely costly avenue to go on because they received a grant that had to do with a sound barrier,” she said. “You not only have to pay for the wall to be torn down, but you also have to pay back the money that was offered for the grant for it to be built.”
Eichhorn said the second option was to switch out the columns so instead of the brick it would have a stone look. “It was an insane amount of money to be able to switch it out,” she said. “Scratch that one off.”
The third option, Eichhorn said, is the most economical way to shield the wall with landscaping. “That is kind of what we were going to be working on,” she said. “It was going to come before the trustees to look at the budget and figure out what we can pass for landscaping.”
However, Eichhorn said nothing could happen until the project was completed.
ODOT was not represented at the trustees meeting.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.