MILAN Milan Mayor Robert Bickley may have to share the white cowboy hat he's known for with Huron County Engineer Joe Kovach since that department will start fixing erosion on U.S. 250 Wednesday morning.
The work will require the temporary closure of the northbound lane from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Traffic will be restricted to one lane during these hours with traffic control in place to allow traffic to move in both directions.
The two have worked out a deal to temporarily fix the northbound lane of U.S. 250 before winter weather makes the erosion worse. Bickley said the argument with the Ohio Department of Transportation over funds is something he'll worry about later.
"We're going to get it fixed and I'll worry about paying for it later," Bickley said. "If nothing else, I'll pay for it myself and worry about collecting from the state later. The safety of people driving on the road is more important than a fight among officials."
He said the erosion would only get worse during the winter and it could create a dangerous situation.
"If anybody tries to park on the berm the way it is, it could cave in and themselves and the car would be downhill in Joe Henry's pasture," Bickley said.
He said he will bill ODOT for the work. "It's their responsibility," Bickley said. "ODOT has had since Aug. 22, when they were officially notified, to solve the damage from the washout."
Kovach said the village is ordering the stone and he would provide workers, equipment and anything else necessary to make the roadway safe for the next few months. "We'll close one lane down and make temporary repairs to make it through the winter," Kovach said. He said workers would secure the embankment and guardrail to stabilize the shoulder.
"There's more discussion to be had, but if we do nothing, it'll get worse over the winter," Kovach said. "The goal is to do a low-cost temporary solution now and let the powers-that-be have their discussions, work it out and go from there."
Even though repairing U.S. 250 is not part of his department's usual duties, Kovach said he thought it was important to help fix the problem. "We should work together to try to solve it.
"In the spirit of cooperation, this section of the road is in Huron County so we have some concerns for our residents," he said. "It would be a disaster for everybody to have to close that road."
Bickley said he would close down the northbound lane after ODOT told the village it was responsible for $100,000 of repairs to fix the erosion. He said at the time the village needed financial help to pay for repairs and, since U.S. 250 is not a village road, ODOT should help.
ODOT threatened to do the work and then bill the village for the entire cost if the village didn't take immediate action, Bickley said.