Branch Hill-Guinea Road sewer petition project set to complete August 27.

By Chuck Gibson  

LOVELAND, OH (August 16, 2021) – Traffic delays, torn up roads and property, along with multiple electrical outages have frustrated residents of Miami Trails and motorists driving on Branch Hill-Guinea Road (BHGR)where a Clermont County sewer petition construction project has gone on for over a year. August 27, 2021 is the current projected date of completion for the long overdue project.

Photo by Chuck Gibson

It began as a sewer petition project according to Ainsley Knapke, project manager for Clermont County Water Resources Department.

“Some property owners petitioned the county for sewer service,” said Knapke. “We ended up proceeding with the property owner’s support.”

The contractor – identified as Utter Construction – began the original installation of the sewer one year ago during the summer of 2020. Upon original completion of the sewer installation work, testing was done. That’s where the trouble began.

“When they went to test the sewers, there were defects and deficiencies discovered,” Knapke explained. “The sewer couldn’t be tested or accepted by the county. The county required the contractor to reinstall the project.”

Residents of Miami Trails believed the original plan for work to complete the project called for 90 days of construction. That meant an interruption of normal traffic flow on BHGR near the entrance to Miami Trails there with a “temporary” traffic signal to safely control the flow of traffic in one open lane on Branch Hill-Guinea Road. Homeowners in Miami Trails expressed concerns over multiple incidents of electrical outages during the construction. Tony Westley is one of many Miami Trails homeowners who has endured the delays and lost electricity while waiting for completion of this long-delayed sewer installation project. After receiving an email message, Loveland Beacon met and talked with Westley about the situation.  

Traffic backs up on Branch Hill-Guinea Road at front entrance to Miami Trails due to sewer project construction delays (Chuck Gibson)

“This is crazy. The entrance to Miami Trails is a disaster and folks are at their wit’s end,” said Westley. “It was supposed to be 90 days last summer. This is year two. My power has been knocked out multiple times this year.”

Knapke confirmed her awareness homeowners have suffered loss of electricity during the project.

“I am aware of one minor power outage from the work last summer,” she said. “And then aware of just a few outages this year from the work.”

Knapke explained there is already a risk of such incidents when you open up a trench in proximity to other utilities such as electrical power lines. In this case, the risk there might be damage to existing utilities was increased by reopening a trench which was just opened within the last year.

“Given how close the electric lines are to the proposed sewer,” Knapke continued. “I think that’s the reason the power lines were damaged in the process of construction. To my knowledge, since that has taken place, Duke Energy has replaced the lines where the new sewer was installed.”

The Duke Energy repair work she mentioned correlates to the notice from Duke to area homeowners of a temporary shutdown of power which took place last Monday, August 9. Knapke expressed hope those repairs to electric lines by Duke will minimize any risk of further loss of electricity to residents. As of this report, she has not heard of any additional incidents of lost electricity since the Duke Energy repairs made last week.

The work this year is a result of the requirement to reinstall the sewer to correct the defects and deficiencies discovered by Clermont County following work last summer.

“They are working on reinstalling the sewer,” said Knapke. “After that, they’ll complete the testing and then restoration of the disturbed areas.”

Some of the disturbed homeowner property inside the front entrace at Miami Trails along with another temporary traffic signal is shown (Chuck Gibson)

The question remains: when will the delays end and the project finally be completed? A message from the Miami Trails Homeowner’s Association (MTHOA) highlights the previous expected completion dates of June 16th, June 30th, July 9th, and August 6th – all of which have passed seemingly with no end in sight. The MTHOA message noted the latest revised date of expected completion as August 27. That’s the same date identified in the schedule most recently received by Knapke and the Clermont County Water Resources Department.

“That August 27th date is identified,” Knapke confirmed. “I would guess all the pipe installation should be complete by then and there may be some restoration work that follows a little bit after that date.”

Once pipe installationis complete, restoration to disturbed areas like this will begin (Chuck Gibson)

Knapke rightly thinks the main question for the homeowners and motorists is when the temporary traffic lights will come down. The intent is for that to happen once all the pipe installation is complete.

“That August 27th date, the lights should be able to come down,” said Knapke. “That should help a lot.”

Knapke expressed awareness by the county of the inconveniences caused by the project. She even offered apologies on behalf of the project for those inconveniences acknowledging the delays and frustrations with the project.

Motorists and Miami Trails residents are ready for the sewer project to end and traffic dealys to go away (Chuck Gibson)

“I believe everyone; including the county, the residents and the contractor are ready to wrap this project up – especially with school beginning soon,” Knapke concluded. “We understand it has taken longer, but we’re hopeful we’ll be out of there shortly.”

Ainsley Knapke is the project manager on the Clermont County Water Resources side and can be contacted via email at: aknapke@clermontcountyohio.gov

Utter Construction is the contractor on the project and you can contact them by email to Bobby Sandker at: bsandker@utterinc.com  or Dillon Utter at: Dillon@utterinc.com