Commissioners to decide fate of historic road

The Scioto County Commissioners have before them a petition vacate Old River Road in West Portsmouth. The petition was filed by adjoining property owners and members of the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail are working to organize an effort to ask the commissioners not to vacate, for historic reasons.

Bill Tipton of the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail said there’s a lot of history on that road.

The road is located where Carey’s Run crosses US Route 52 there is an old road called the Old River Road. The road is surrounded by farm land.

“The road leads down to the last canal lock on the Ohio Erie Canal, lock number 55. The end of a 309 mile canal that started in Cleveland and ended on the bank of the Ohio River near Portsmouth,” Tipton said.

Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners said the road is still considered a public road.

“The property belongs to the county and it still a public road. There’s others that want to vacate it (Old River Road) to motorized traffic, but they want to be able to go down and visit the historic site at the lock,” Crabtree said. “If you’ve ever been down there it’s kind of a beautiful structure and is still in very good shape.”

Crabtree said he can understand why people would want to visit the lock.

“The road was shutdown 20 or 30 years ago, when the deck was taken off the bridge (along the road). The bridge trusses were still there, when I seen it three or four years ago,” Crabtree said.

Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman said the road is owned by the county, but is not maintained.

“I’ve been down in that area since I was ten or 11 years old. I can see a bike path being down there, but you also have to look at it from a farmers perspective as well,” Doug Coleman, Scioto County Commissioner said. “I think this could be remedied another way, we could make another way to (access) it.”

As a result of a petition being filed to vacate the road the commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for September 1 to view the road and consider the request. After the hearing the commissioners will have ten days to make a decision.

Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis said he’s talked to those that filed the petition.

“Everyone of them (interested parties) said they wished there was a way (to keep it the way it is), they understand the historical significance and safety issues. They mentioned crop dusters. They call crop dusters in and they don’t control the sky or schedule. Who pays for the person that gets covered in chemicals, while there making their way to the lock,” Davis said.

According to Crabtree and Davis, if the roadway is completely vacated new property lines would be drawn and taxes would be paid on the property.

“If this (vacated road) is allowed to happen the Old River Road and access to Ohio Erie Canal Lock 55 will be lost forever. I am asking all of you who can to attend a public meeting to be held at the Washington Township Trustees building at 1900 S.S. Davis Avenue West Portsmouth, Ohio 45663 at 1:45 pm on September 1, 2016 and also to email commissioner Mike Crabtree at and tell him not to vacate the Old River Road,” Tipton said.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneAllenPDT on Twitter.