If 0.85 miles of Butternut Ridge Road is permanently closed at the request of Republic Services, keeping residents safe is the top concern for Oberlin fire chief Bob Hanmer.
The landfill submitted a petition to the Lorain County commissioners in February to vacate a half-mile stretch in New Russia Township and a third of a mile in Carlisle Township.
Republic Services is located between Oberlin Elyria Road and Butternut Ridge Road and owns land north of Butternut.
A traffic analysis report given to commissioners stated the landfill wants to expand its area and activities to land north of Butternut.
David Vossmer, Republic Services general manager, said in an email the closure is needed to excavate soil from the north side of the road well into the next decade and possibly beyond. “The soil from the north side of the road will be used for both future cell development and daily cover,” he said.
For expansion to be possible, Republic Services is asking for the road to close so workers can move material between the two landfill areas without disrupting traffic.
If the closure is approved, it would require drivers to seek alternate routes such as Oberlin Elyria Road, Russia Road, and Lorain Street.
Driving around the site would take eight minutes.
“If you’re adding another eight minutes, that’s not acceptable,” said Hanmer, whose firefighters would be responsible for calls to the majority of the areas near the closure. The Carlisle Township fire department also covers part of the area in the proposed closure.
Hanmer’s concerned because the alternative routes have culverts and bridges. Should they ever need replaced it would extend firefighter response time even more. “The response time would become 18 minutes,” he said.
The fire chief said there are big farm houses, a large storage building, and a horse barn in that area. “To get water to those fast, because there’s a lack of hydrates in that area, we would rely on Carlisle,” Hanmer said. “Adding eight minutes to response time is not the best option for us.”
He said vacating Butternut Ridge will not only impact his department but also the Lorain County sheriff’s deputies.
A traffic analysis by Republic Services stated construction vehicles are expected to cross the road 160 times. That’s 80 vehicles making round trips during the landfill’s normal eight-hour day, which is nearly 20 crossings per hour.
“These crossings will be made by slow-moving vehicles traveling at 15 mph,” it stated. After construction is completed, workers are expect to make 80 trips per day across the street.
“A full closure of Butternut Ridge Road would eliminate the conflict between landfill vehicles and the traveling public,” the traffic analysis said.
“We believe this is the safest option for local drivers,” Vossmer said. “Safety is the most important factor to Republic Services.”
A public hearing on the vacation petition from Republic Services will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3 at the Lorain County Administration Building in Elyria.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.