By Wayne Allen
State and local officials gathered Tuesday on the shores of Lake White, in Pike County, to mark the beginning of a $31.7 million improvement project. Sunesis Construction Company was awarded a contract to complete the work.
The improvement project is collaboration between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). In 2014, ODNR noticed there was some seepage leaking from the Lake White Dam. ODRN officials examined the issue and what needed to be done to fix them.
In attendance at the ceremony were ODOT Director Jerry Wray and ODNR Director James Zehringer.
“This project is among other things a celebration of a partnership between ODNR and ODOT. The ODOT part of this is we’re going to widening and reconstructing State Route 104 in addition to building a bridge,” Wray said. “This represents nearly a $32 million dollar investment in this community that’s going to pay dividends to the community for years to come.”
Wray said with this project history is being set in motion.
“We’re going to change the typography and the transportation landscape of this area and it will remain changed, to the benefit of lots of people for decades to come,” Wray said.
According to released information, built along the former Ohio and Erie Canal, Lake White was constructed during the Depression through the Works Progress Administration. It was officially dedicated as a state park in 1949.
For its part of the project, ODOT will be replacing the existing bridge on S.R. 104, reconstructing the highway by widening S.R. 104, constructing turn lanes at S.R. 551 and S.R. 552, and improving the intersection of S.R. 104 and County Road 105 (Forest Hills Road).
ODNR’s portion of the project includes making improvements to the dam to ensure regulatory and safety requirements, reinforcing the west bank of S.R. 104, completing the lake drain, armoring the upstream face of the dam with riprap and relocating a portion of Crooked Creek.
“Governor John Kasich has stressed to the directors that agencies should work together, to stream line government. This is a good example of ODOT and ODNR’s partnership,” Zehringer said.
Ohio has 1,500 public and privately owned dams with ODNR regulating all of those dams.
“Ohio’s dams have been a concern for many years and previous administrations have dealt with different priorities and very lean budgets. Over the past four year Governor Kasich has been committed to fixing our aging dams,” Zehringer said. “We’re going to make sure this gets done a quickly as it can. We could not have done this without ODOT’s and your support. Hopefully a year from now, we’ll have this lake back to where we can use it,” Zehringer said.
Construction gets under way this week, the project is targeted for completion by late fall 2016.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT