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Contractor addressing road conditions

A local contractor performing maintenance upgrades toJackson-Liberty Drive will begin laying gravel atop the muddyroadway Wednesday to provide residents there with some temporarytraction relief.

Oddee Smith and Sons Inc., will place washed rock on the road tomaintain traffic after Monday’s heavy rain made the road slippery.The slippery road resulted in several vehicles sliding onto theroad’s soft, muddy shoulders and becoming stuck.

The road’s asphalt has been stripped away for the project,leaving only a clay base. The 1.5-mile grade and drain projectbegan in August and is scheduled for completion next summer, saidDungan Engineering PA Civil Engineer Ryan Holmes.

Oddee Smith and Sons Inc., part owner J. Ronny Smith said heavyrain has caused difficulties at the site before, and another layerof rock should alleviate the problem.

“Our responsibility is for the people who live on that road,” hesaid. “The first time it rained we had some issues, we dealt withthem and we’ll do it again. We’ll get some material on there andhave it ready for the holidays.”

Smith said the washed rock would be placed on the muddiestsection of Jackson-Liberty Drive – from its intersection withHighway 550 to Loyd Star Lane.

Jackson-Liberty resident J.B. Johnson said the clay surfaceprovides plenty of traction when the weather is dry, but any goodamount of rain makes the road slick. On Monday night, he said heand another resident used their four-wheel drives to pull “five orsix” stuck vehicles from the mud – including his own Chevrolet.

“The clay gets so slick you’ll slide down there [in the mud],”he said. “It’s bad when it rains. You can do it in a four-wheeldrive, but not [Monday] night. I don’t care how many drives youhave.”

When conditions are slippery, Johnson said he and otherJackson-Liberty residents have to use the county’s detour, whichtakes them across Loyd Star Lane to James Drive and on to eitherMacedonia Road or Old Red Star Drive.

“I left for a doctor’s appointment one morning and couldn’t goanywhere, I had to turn around and go back,” Johnson said. “If Ihadn’t have left home early, I’d have been in trouble.”

But the detour doesn’t work for everyone. King’s DaughtersMedical Center Paramedic Blythe Jinks said she had to use afour-wheeler to traverse the road after Monday’s rain to take her21-month-old son, Layne, to his babysitter – Charlene Johnson -near Loyd Star Lane.

“I’m not going to say it about didn’t make it through, but itwas having a hard time making it through,” she said. “The firstlittle bit was OK, but a little farther we came to the firstvehicle that was stuck. They were shoving, pushing and digging thecars out. It’s been going on for weeks.”

Johnson, who has her own children to look after as well, saidcontinually washing muddy shoes was getting to be as much a choreas stuck vehicles. The promise of the washed rock, however,brightened her spirits.

“That is excellent news to us,” she said. “They definitely needto, and I hope they start in front of my house.”

Even after all the turmoil caused by stuck vehicles and muddyshoes, District Five Supervisors Gary Walker said Jackson-Libertyresidents have shown patience and voiced their concernspolitely.

One thing that is troubling Walker, however, is the joyridingthat has been occurring up and down the road project.

“I see a lot of people on it that should not even be on it -they don’t even have houses on the road,” he said. “It’s got detoursigns up on each end; it’s got signs everywhere.”

As for the mud, Walker said such conditions are just a fact oflife in road construction, especially this time of year. It will,however, have a positive effect.

“The rain will help it set up in the long run and make it abetter road,” he said.