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Liberty’s road superintendent pushes for drainage improvements

LIBERTY — The township’s five-man road department keeps track of construction and has plans to improve on safety throughout the year.

Road Superintendent Wayne Hickman presented trustees with the department’s annual report at a meeting last week. Hickman said he would like to establish a maintenance program and suggested how areas, such as drainage and signage, can often be overlooked.

“In comparison to the rest of Trumbull County, we’re all pretty much in the same boat while trying to improve roads, as many roads as we can, stretching the dollar,” Hickman said. “In doing so, a lot of times, drainage improvements are left behind.”

In his second year as road superintendent, Hickman said that while working at the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office, he administered paving projects.

“We would push to have drainage improvements, along with road paving,” Hickman said. “That’s the challenge for every municipality, county, or township, trying to improve the road and drainage of the road so it can last longer. Instead of paving 15 roads, you pave 10 roads and improve the drainage with it.”

Townships often run into trouble when drainage is overlooked, because “water is the enemy.” In reference to the county as a whole, Hickman added that “it’s not just Liberty Township, it’s all over and every road superintendent is constantly fighting water to help save their assets.”

Those assets can range from existing drainage control, asphalt, chip seal, or many other compounds used to protect road longevity.

ROADWORKERS

With five men working on-site for the road department, Hickman said it tasked with maintaining 63 centerline miles, which is about 126 lane miles, on Liberty roads.

“That’s one of the reasons why I put our annual report together,” Hickman said. “A lot of people don’t understand what the road department does. Listing everything the road department does, really would be eye-opener to a lot of people.

“We’re not just out there salting and plowing roads. We’re constantly working on drainage improvements and taking care of vegetation, site distance at intersections, and anything to do with the right-of-way of the road to help the traveling public have a safe trip, bottom line.”

Hickman explained that he is interested in expanding the road department, but the availability of equipment and manpower to operate it are just two roadblocks in the “balancing act.”

“Would I like to increase our manpower?” Hickman questioned. “Absolutely I would, however, with the equipment that we have, even though we just got two newer 10-ton trucks last year, it’s a balancing act within your budget to operate efficiently.”

Last year, nearly $82,000 covered the cost of repairs for 19 pieces of equipment for the department.

“So that sort of shows you that it’s a constant project management of keeping the manpower and operating equipment safely,” Hickman said. “And once that equipment goes down, you have to get it fixed.”

FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

Liberty can expect its road department to continue improving the drainage of its newly paved roads as the department continues to maintain them, Hickman said.

“In the report, some of the things we deal with are signage, drain pipes or storm pipes,” Hickman added. “We’re trying to upgrade those regulatory signs and warning signs, making sure we have the proper offset and height for those signs, and high intensity reflectivity for the signs.”

According to the road department’s reports, $20,923 was put toward those upgrades.

“That’s another highlighted point, which I will be working toward even more this year, as far as street signs,” Hickman said. “Let’s face it, as you get older, and at night time, the reflectivity in a sign really helps out.”

2023 REPORT

In 2023, Liberty hired one new employee to its road department, which worked for 253 days out of the year. Total overtime worked came out to 180 hours, and 921 tires were collected during the scrap tire drop off.

Some completed construction projects included the Little Saw Creek Restoration and the Naylor Lloyd Road Improvement Project.

The following projects are in their design phase:

* 2023 Second Round, Liberty Township Road Program: nine roads and southern fire department parking lot and concrete approach ramps, Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.

* 2024 Ohio Public Works Commission, Liberty Township Road Program – nine roads, Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.

* Belmont Sidewalk Project – Phase I and II, GPD Group.

* Townsend Road Drainage Project, GPD Group.

Through drainage repair site contracts, the road department listed repairs on Catherine Street, Denver Drive, Fifth Avenue, Keefer Road, Belmont Avenue and Darlington Avenue, and two on Sampson Drive. Additionally, contracted tree services reached $34,800.

Other work performed over several-day instances throughout the year included yard restoration, brush removal, grass cutting, mailbox fixing, road closure, hot-mixing asphalt, cold-mixing asphalt, cemetery burials, weed wacking, trash pickup, catch basins, pipe repairs, flag replacing and flood patroling.

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at dnewman@tribtoday.com. Follow him/her on X, formerly Twitter, @tribdnewman.

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