BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — It will likely be months before River Road is restored to traffic, according to City Service Director Joe Camp.
Until then, the road will remain closed from Side Cut Metropark to Jerome Road while crews from the city and state work to get it repaired.
“Safety is our utmost concern in keeping people away for now,” Camp said. “As soon as the ice melts, we can determine ultimate damage. It is dependent on the weather and how soon asphalt plants get open. We should be able to get River Road open from Sidecut to Riverside Cemetery within a week or two but we have not been able to fully assess River Road from the Cemetery to Jerome Road yet.”
Since early February, the road has been closed after 4 feet of water and large ice chunks flowed into the area, bringing debris and deadwood and tumbling headstones at Riverside Cemetery. While there is substantial damage, it is less then the destruction caused by rushing ice and water in 2015, Camp said.
“In my 30 years with the city, this is the fourth time we’ve had to deal with this, but it was definitely worse four years ago,” he said.
Two large sections of the road are completely washed out and there is substantial damage along the berm. City crews are currently working to get the road passable for the work crews to use as the focus on repairs and cleanup continues. A crew from the Ohio Department of Transportation is repairing damage to the drainage ditch in the right of way of I-475, and an outside contractor will likely complete the asphalt work on the portion that washed away, but that will take time, Camp said.
“Because everything is still frozen, it does present a challenge,” he said.
In preparation of the walleye run, which typically begins in April, a temporary boat ramp has been constructed for emergency vehicles. Even with the much-anticipated walleye run and the onslaught of fisherman to the area, the portion of River Road will still be closed from Riverside Cemetery to Jerome Road, Camp said.
Scott Carpenter, Metroparks Toledo director of public relations, said that river access to fishermen would be provided as much as possible, given the circumstances. Currently, portions of the park and trails are open.
“Crews are working to get the area open as best as they can. When the ice does start melting, it should go fast,” Carpenter said.
While flooding water is generally expected in the park, the damage caused by ice can be significant, although that doesn’t seem to be the case this year, Carpenter said.
“From our end, there is some signage, light poles and other things that need repaired, but overall it’s pretty minor,” he said.
Cleanup in Riverside Cemetery, which is the responsibility of the city, is also underway and will likely take four months to complete. It will take two months to turn all of the headstones upright and another two months to set and repair them, Camp said.
While the Metroparks cover costs associated with damage to the park, the city is responsible for damage to the road and cemetery. Camp tried to access state emergency funds to pay the costs associated with repairing the road, but that money has already been expended, which means the money will likely come from the city’s general fund.
At the Monday, March 18 Maumee City Council meeting, Camp will request approval for a $12,000 appropriation to cover costs associated with the cleanup effort. The money will be used to pay for equipment and supplies needed to reset the monuments and headstones, which includes the rental of a mini excavator and the purchase of a vacuum lift, power cart, adjustable monument setting system, air hose, joint compound, wood spacers and epoxy sealant.
The city will also pay a portion of costs associated with repairing the bike trail, portions of which run through the park while others run adjacent to the road. An agreement established four years ago, when the trail was constructed, stipulates that the city would cover two-thirds of repair costs and the Metroparks would pay for one-third of repairs for any damage to it.
Volunteers are helping with the cleanup effort in the park, but the city is not seeking help for cleanup efforts at the cemetery or along the road.