A ditch of a problem
by Jazz Clark
Traveling towards Martinsburg on Rt. 9, few would notice the deep ditches running down the left side of the highway, but Judy Somers does.
Somers has had little response from the State Department of Transportation about the inconveniences and dangers associated with the 3-ft. ditch and impeding gravel.
“In wintertime, if someone hits an icy patch and slides in, they could be seriously hurt,” Somers said. “Nowhere is there a ditch this bad in Morgan County.”
She hopes the school bus which lets on kids right up the road never falls in and has an accident.
When maintenance crews salted and added gravel to the busy road last winter, the gravel naturally settled in the culverts. When a heavy rain comes, the flooding runs straight up the culvert and into the Somers’ garage, damaging whatever is stored there.
The gravel has found it way into her yard and is packed down so much, there were times they couldn’t mow. She was told anything that transfers off the state-owned roadway is no longer responsibility of the state.
Somers feels it would be a different matter if Rt. 9 begins to collapse and a retaining wall is needed.
District Engineer Lee Thorne says the ditches fall within the state’s right-of-way and maintenance of those sections fall on the property owner.
They would need to install 130 ft. of piping to alleviate the flooding, at a cost of up to $20 a foot, or $2,600. Any piping over 100 ft. also has a tendency of clogging up.
“What she is asking is beyond what we do for private citizens, and just not an acceptable use of public funds,” Thorne said.
Since open ditches are the easiest and most cost-effective method for controlling water flow, an option being considered is moving the ditch further back and creating a slope.
Safety of the traveling public is the top concern of the Department Transportation, and they will continue looking into alternatives.
“We don’t really like deep ditches, but you have to have drainage,” Thorne said.