Sliding hillside worries Liverpool officials

EAST LIVERPOOL – The city is trying to find funding to remediate problems with a hillside along state Route 11 which is again starting to slide downhill.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell said a major slide was repaired in the same spot several years ago, but that late in March a large portion of the hill again started to fall and is currently pushing up against the wire fencing placed there after the last slide.

“We had been keeping an eye on it for fear it would happen again,” Estell said.

Local contractor Mike Pusateri was asked to inspect the hill and give an estimate for repairs, and the initial estimate was more than $358,000 to close a lane of the highway, erect an enclosure and barrier wall, implement erosion control, remove all the falling material, re-contour the land and revert water to a natural ravine, then seed, mulch and repair the fence.

One of the unknown costs will be for any drainage that might be needed, which can’t be determined until the slip area is removed.

To repair the area would require about six weeks.

Even this extensive repair project would not guarantee the hill will not slide again, Estell said.

“Anything that would give us the assurance this wouldn’t happen again would be extremely expensive. It would need a concrete barrier wall to get any kind of guarantee,” according to Estell, who said the ground is composed of clay, not rock.

Planning Director Bill Cowan has been contacting state agencies about the availability of emergency funding, and Mayor Jim Swoger was in New Philadelphia this week at the Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 offices, where he was advised to have Cowan also contact some federal resources for funding.

Asked what if funding assistance is not available, Estell said, “We don’t have these kinds of funds available.”

He said that in the short term the city street department could remove some of the material off the fence to try to prevent it from sliding further down the hillside. However, the street department does not have the type of equipment or expertise needed for the repairs needed, he added.

Cowan has sent Pusateri’s estimate to the state agencies in the hope of gaining funding.

He said the city had been fortunate to have gone quite some time without problems with the hillsides that surround it.

However, in the past 10 years or so, not only has this hillside slid, a cavity opened up underneath state Route 11 and a slide occurred on state Route 39, all of which created emergency situations on the highways, Estell said, adding that the state has come through with funding for those projects.

“The state has been great, working with us and coming up with money to help us out. We’ve had a great relationship, and I’m hoping that continues.”