3/22/16 – 11:45 A.M.
The reconstruction of the I-75/US 68 interchange will need tons of fill material to build. The proposed Blanchard River diversion channel will create tons of fill material. That supply-and-demand scenario has the potential to drastically change the flood mitigation timeline in Hancock County. Citing what would be another delay in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Chief’s report, Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik and project engineer Steve Wilson proposed moving toward a local diversion channel plan. The Hancock County Commissioners appear to be on board. If all goes according to plan, the construction of a diversion channel would start in February of 2018, rather than in 2022.
The change in plans means an ambitious timeline to match up with the widening of I-75 in Findlay. That project is set to go out to bid by late 2017, which means the diversion channel project would have to go out to bid at the same time. But before that happens, an engineer would have to be contracted to design the project, and surveys and geotechnical investigations will have to take place. Wilson says land will also have to be bought…
Audio: Steve Wilson
The process of buying land could start as early as this June.
Going with a local plan also means no federal dollars will be attached to the project. Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik says the county and city have banked money for this…
Audio : Lydia Mihalik
She adds there will be cost savings in using the fill material from the channel for the ODOT project.
One of the biggest criticisms of the diversion channel plan has been the taking of usable farmland. Commissioner Mark Gazarek says this plan would eliminate the need for ODOT to dig fill pits on useable land…
Audio: Mark Gazarek
Commissioner Brian Robertson said he thought the plan was a good local recommendation. He also told Mihalik he suggested a local plan in 2013, and wondered what changed her mind…
Audio: Brian Robertson
Mihalik said the opportunity to partner with ODOT and dwindling confidence in the Army Corps of Engineers was her big turning point.
Commissioner Phil Riegle also expressed concerns with the Army Corps continued delays…
Audio: Phil Riegle
The Corps wanted more study time which could have delayed a final report by up to a year.
The commissioners will likely vote to seek bids for a project consultant firm at their Thursday meeting.
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