By Karen Vance
UNION TWP. - Anna Louise Smith has lived on Barg Salt Run Road for 50 years. And the 66-year-old woman, who used to drive a school bus on the road, has been begging for improvements to the winding, hilly and narrow road almost as long.
This summer, the township has been taking steps toward restructuring one of its most dangerous parts - the mile just north of the road's bridge over Interstate 275.
The township trustees have asked the county engineering office to study the stretch and make a plan for making the road safer, said Ken Geis, township administrator.
The township would like to start work while the bridge over I-275 is still under construction by the Ohio Department of Transportation to minimize the amount of time people are inconvenienced.
But Smith, who has seen the road fall out from under vehicles and has navigated through stray brush washed onto the road, said the timing doesn't matter as much as seeing the work get done.
"Any improvement would be great," Smith said. "I've put up with it all these years, I'd be willing to deal with more construction and inconvenience for any improvement."
Doug Royer, deputy engineer for the county, said the project is challenging because the road is only about 11/2-lanes wide.
"There are a lot of hills and drop-offs that make it difficult to make it a true two-lane road," he said.
It is more likely that pull-offs will be constructed in some places to make it safer, Royer said.
Scott Henderson, executive director of the Wildwood Camp and Conference Center located on Barg Salt, said the road sometimes makes it hard for school buses and delivery trucks to reach the retreat. But that same out-of-the-way location is a reason why many people like the camp.
"It just makes it more difficult than if it was a nice, evenly paved road with drainage," Henderson said. "But it hasn't prevented people from getting here."
The cost of the project won't be known until the engineering study is completed in the middle of August, Geis said. Then the township will decide whether to complete the project in stages.
"There is no way the road could be finished before the bridge is set to open in September or October, but we hope to make the road closure a continuation to minimize the inconvenience," Geis said.
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