CADIZ -- The monthly oil and gas safety meeting was held Monday morning in the Puskarich Public Library and the primary topic of discussion again was the increase of truck traffic in Harrison County and the problems resulting from the commercial vehicles not adhering to traffic laws.
Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) District 7 Commander Capt. Corey Davies issued a warning to all drivers working in and traveling through the area that law enforcement will be increasing their efforts to control the increasing commercial truck traffic violations in Eastern Ohio.
The district has been assigned a pilot for the area with unlimited availability and the captain told the representatives from local oil and gas contractors that the unit will be concentrating on traffic driving left of center, not driving with assured clear distance and vehicles leaving the roadway violations.
Ohio State Highway Patrol District 7 Commander Capt. Corey Davies and Sgt. Greg McCutcheon illustrated the efforts underway to decrease violations by commercial truck traffic in Eastern Ohio at the monthly oil and gas safety meeting in Cadiz. Efforts will include increasing air patrol in the region to specifically target vehicles following too closely, driving left of center and leaving the road surface which were cited as the primary contributor to increased accidents in the region.
"Those are the violations we are primarily looking for," said Capt. Davies. "Those are the ones that are causing the majority of the accidents we are seeing."
Sgt. Greg McCutcheon explained that the OSHP had received complaints from oil and gas companies that they were being targeted by law enforcement.
"We are going to send our aviation unit up to do some reconnaissance and find out where the busiest traffic areas are before we start our details," Capt. Davies admitted.
"We are not specifically singling out oil and gas traffic," Sgt. McCutcheon stated that while patrols, portable scales and inspection points are set up in the heaviest traffic areas it was not profiling the industry. "We are looking at all commercial traffic in the area, steel haulers, log trucks. We are enforcing fairly and equally."
Harrison County Sheriff Joe Myers said that the complaints about truck traffic in the county have continued, "We are joining with the Highway Patrol to enforce the traffic laws and lower the incidence of these violations."
The sheriff also stated that there would be increased patrols to try and stem the incidences of wide load violations, "We have to remember that village roads are only so wide, so please slow down on theses roads."
The sheriff said that escort vehicles were moving the loads at speeds in excess of what he considered safe for the roads and also companies were moving these large loads at night, which is both dangerous and illegal.
"We have had continued calls on traffic running stop signs and traffic lights," Sheriff Myers said that many of the complaints came from an intersection on Harrison 49 at Lower Clearfork. Rd."
This is our last meeting before school is back in session on Aug. 22, the buses pull out of the garage at 5 a.m. and we need to keep in mind that we will have school children on the roads," Myers said that the bus routes for Harrison Hills schools would be posted as soon as they were finalized.
Sheriff Myers added that a recent accident on Ohio 151 where a mower was struck and a driver was life flighted illustrated the need for increased diligence.
"Obviously, we are not going to catch all of them," Myers admitted."While you may not see a marked cruiser, we will be increasing our patrols and stepping up enforcement."
Companies in attendance stated that they were using drivers training courses for employees and contractors and have a strict policy for violators of traffic laws.
In other traffic complaints aired at the meeting Green Township trustee John Seleski complained that pipeline construction vehicles were parking on township roads.
Harrison County Commissioner Bill Host added that Utica East Ohio pipeline construction crews had open cut Harrison 8 near the intersection of Harrison 44 without properly notifying local law enforcement or fire and emergency personnel.
Jim Albright General Manager of the Highway Department sated that while the company had permission to open cut the road they did not follow protocol outlined in Road Use and Maintenance Agreement singed with the county.
Jonathan Roales, Agriculture and Natural Resource Technician for the Harrison Soil and Water Conservation District stated that he has received many complaints about silt washing onto peoples property from local well pads and pipeline construction after rains.
Several oil and gas representatives stated that their silt dams were overwhelmed by heavy downpours. Roales suggested contacting the company when incidents occur adding that most have been very cooperative in clean up.
The sheriff also reminded citizens to sign up for the Reverse 911 system. The process takes just minutes and can be critical for notification in case of an emergency.
The next meeting will be held August. 25 at 10 a.m. In the Cadiz library.
Palmer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org