Road will pave the way to port

EAST LIVERPOOL – Nearly $1 million in road improvements are planned as part of a major expansion underway at the Columbiana County Port Authority’s industrial park in Wellsville.

The Port Authority agreed on Monday to hire the East Liverpool engineering firm of Dallis Dawson & Associates to perform the design work on upgrading a 2,200-foot section of Clark Avenue that leads to the lower entrance of the riverfront industrial park.

The road leads to 22 acres of industrial park property being leased by the Port Authority to Arrowhead Utica Pipelines, which intends to build a shale-gas transfer facility at the site. Arrowhead is an affiliate of Hilcorp Energy, a leading oil and gas producer active in securing drilling leases in the region.

Another Hilcorp affiliate, Harvest Pipeline Co., is involved in a joint venture with Marathon Oil to develop 3.6 acres of property at the other end of the industrial park into a transfer station for trucks transporting oil and gas to Marathon’s adjacent storage/transfer terminal on the Ohio River.

Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Tracy Drake said the section of Clark Avenue “is one big old pothole,” and the road improvements are expected to cost an estimated $902,000. The Port Authority is seeking grants from several state and federal government agencies to cover the entire cost.

The work is to consist of grinding down the length of road and repaving it, among other improvements.

Drake said the Ohio Department of Transportation advised them to proceed with the engineering work now so it will be completed about the time the grants are approved sometime this spring.

Dallis Dawson was chosen from among several engineering firms asked to submit proposals, and Drake said they decided to go with Dawson because the company has performed other work for them at the industrial park and they were pleased with the results. He said the firm’s fee is usually just under 10 percent of the estimated project cost.

In other action at the meeting, the Port Authority board voted to grant 2 percent pay raises to its hourly staff, which consists of four clerical workers and two maintenance men.

Board President Charles Presley said the increase was recommended by the executive committee.

“We looked at this as basically a cost of living increase that was in line with inflation,” he said.

The raises, which will cost a combined $4,000 per year and do not apply to Drake, are the first since a state audit released last year cited the Port Authority for granting raises in 2011 without approving them at a public meeting.