ANTIQUITY — Drivers encountered hazardous road conditions early Wednesday morning as a result of falling rocks on State Route 124 in Antiquity, a small town in Meigs County located between Racine and Letart Falls.
The Ohio Department of Transportation was quickly on the scene after receiving a report around 4 a.m. Wednesday that fallen rocks were blocking one lane of the road.
As with many towns along the river, Antiquity is no longer incorporated, but the area is still identified by that name. Situated between rolling hills and the Ohio River, the roadway is the only thing separating the two.
The portion of the road where the slide occurred could be described as a narrow corridor, and is referred to historically as “the narrows.” Conditions have always required caution for drivers and homeowners; due to its location, flooding and falling rocks have been commonplace.
With the installation of the Racine Locks and Dam, flooding has become less frequent in recent years, although heavy rains and melting snow bring water levels precariously close to the highway.
The road itself has been subject to slides due to erosion caused by the river’s encroachment. A huge engineering project was undertaken in recent years to secure the road and prevent further erosion, and currently the area is stable.
ODOT Engineers in Marietta accessed the situation and determined the large rocks that fell were sitting atop shale. The shale had deteriorated, causing them to slip onto the highway. Work began on removing the large rocks after the proper equipment was brought into the area and traffic once again moved through the “narrows.”
While residents are familiar with these types of adversities, the large slide that took place Wednesday morning had residents questioning if the area might experience more such occurrences.
Meigs ODOT Transportation Manager Keith Webber was on the scene overseeing the operation and said it was impossible to predict when or where the next slide might occur.
“Water on the hillsides freezes, then it thaws, and then we have more rainfall; there is no way to tell when it will happen. When Mother Nature says its time to fall, it falls. All we can do is make sure we have signs up to caution motorists and make the area safe and passable as soon as possible.”
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.