Oil, gas may pave Bridgeport roads

THE?REMOVAL of large bumps on Howard Street is among road repair plans Mayor John Callarik has for the village of Bridgeport this summer.

But more money is needed for such projects, and an oil and gas lease could help in that endeavor, he said. The village is seeking bids for a lease for 38 acres of land it owns. Callarik said the money garnered from such a lease should be used to repair and repave streets in the village, including Howard Street’s expansion joints.

“We’re taking bids on it. That’s what we have to do and we’ll go with the best and highest bid,” Callarik said of the gas lease. “It’s a good thing for the village if we do receive this money. … We need to put the roads back in shape. I might have to convince the council people of that. Fifty percent of the streets in Bridgeport need it. We will have to look around.”

Callarik said the village is using St. Clairsville-based engineer Bill Street as a consultant regarding road repairs. He conceded Howard Street is among the worst and most-used roads in the village, adding he’s received complaints about the large bumps on the road. The impact of large trucks and tractor-trailers driving over those bumps causes homes and businesses on Howard Street to shake. Some residents have complained to Village Council in the past about damage and cracks to their homes being caused by the shaking.

Howard Street resident Ruth Garrison said her home has sustained damage from the shaking.

“There has been increasing damage – not just cracking plaster but furnace ducts that actually came lose and pipes shaking,” Garrison said.

Garrison was glad to learn potential gas lease money may be used to fix her street, but the work needs to be done as soon as possible, she said.

“They need to go ahead, as soon as weather permits, and fix it. This should be fixed no matter what. It should have been fixed three years ago. It needs to be correctly repaired instead of a lump of asphalt thrown on it. That’s the problem, they’re not fixing it right,” Garrison said.

Callarik said the damaged expansion joints need removed and replaced.

“Howard Street is pretty bad. … Howard Street is a main street that travels a lot. It’s our first priority,” he said.

Callarik said the village should try to match the gas lease money it receives with grant money. He said he is reaching out to legislators to see if any state or federal grant money is available.

“Even a $200,000 lease is not enough. It could be front money on grant money. … But we’ve got to do our part. We’re going to do something with our streets this summer. It’s a big job, but it can be done. We need to go beyond patching – we’ve got to put down new asphalt,” he said. “We’ve got to find the money and we will.”

Callarik said there is some money set aside for streets, but he did not know offhand how much the village had.

Bids for the lease are being taken at the mayor’s office until 1 p.m. April 7 and are expected to be opened during a Village Council meeting. During a Jan. 21 Village Council meeting, representatives from Eastern Ohio Utica Shale group offered a lease to the village for its acreage. This led to the village advertising for bids.