The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 5, 2013

Postal service gets roads repaired

Conneaut’s ruddy streets almost stamped out mail delivery

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Road crews in Conneaut recently had to make emergency repairs to a stretch of Underridge Road to make sure mail delivery to some residents was uninterrupted, according to a U.S. Postal Service spokesman.

The city responded promptly and mail reached its destination, said David Van Allen, spokesman at the USPS’ Cleveland office.

“We did recently have some difficulty navigating Underridge Road in Conneaut,” Van Allen said in response to a e-mail inquiry. “The postmaster contacted City Hall, (which) responded the city was grading the road that same day. The situation was immediately resolved and there has been no delay in mail delivery service.”

It’s not immediately known if the incident marked the first time the local post office raised a concern about the city’s unpaved roads. Affected residents have complained loud and hard to City Hall over the past few weeks.

The Postal Service has the right to withhold delivery if roads pose a problem, Van Allen said. The Post Office manual states persons responsible for the care of roads must be contacted about conditions that could obstruct delivery, he said. If repairs aren’t made promptly, service may be halted until improvements are made, Van Allen said.

Conneaut Police Chief Charles Burlingham said Thursday his officers have not had problems responding promptly to calls because of any problems with secondary roads. Transportation officials with the Conneaut Area City Schools district could not be reached to comment on how their buses have fared on the roads.

City leaders have said prolonged poor weather has played havoc with the secondary roads. Wet weather and the freeze/thaw cycle that accompanies winter in northeast Ohio made roads soft and created craters.

Last month, Eggleston — in response to concern expressed by City Council members — said some $10,000 would be spent on stone to bolster some of the worst spots. The best solution, however, is a string of dry days, he said at the time.

Mother Nature may be ready to oblige, according to forecasters. There’s a less than 50 percent chance of rain over the weekend and into early next week, says the National Weather Service.

Administrators have also said the narrow defeat of a street improvement levy last fall has put the budget in a real bind. The proposed levy would have replaced an income tax hike earmarked for road work that expired at the end of 2012. Last month, Finance Director John Williams said more than $120,000 raised through the income tax remains unspent.

However, the city is counting on that money to help fix Harbor Street after an upcoming sewer project and also repair the intersection of Chestnut and West Jackson streets, Eggleston has said. Eggleston could not be immediately reached Thursday to say if road crews have been able to begin repairs to the secondary roads.