Fairfield trustees seek aid to beef up roads to facility

FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP – Trustees are looking for money from three state agencies to bolster and upgrade access into the Buckeye Transfer Realty oil and gas facility on Easterly Road.

Trustee Barry Miner said Thursday he met with Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson and his assistant Bob Durbin last month regarding road deterioration from heavy-truck traffic that is already being seen while coming to grips with anticipated traffic requirements to smoothly and safely access the 95-acre facility.

The township wants to fast track the improvements.

The Buckeye Transfer facility, planned to serve as a truck-to-rail oil and gas transfer depot, is currently distributing fracking sand at multiple loading points and could house a frack water recycling facility along with a pipe storage depot.

Plans call for 100-car Unitrains to eventually transport oil and condesate from what has been described as a full-service oil and gas center.

Miner said they’re looking for funding to bring Esterly Drive, Cherry Fork Road and state Route 344 up to handling the extra tonnage while talks with Norfolk Southern are needed to work out details for transferring Unitrains back and forth from the main rail line with sight lines of 300 feet in either direction.

The Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association (OMEGA), Jobs Ohio and the Office of Jobs and Commerce in the Ohio Department of Transportation were suggested by Dawson.

“There might be a funding stream for the intersection (off state Route 344) and paving,” Miner said, noting a March 19 meeting has been set at Buckeye Transfer with company officials and the three state agencies.

Trustee Chairman Bob Hum called the Esterly Drive intersection with state Route 344 “strange” because it’s on a curve and banked “and they’re turning left” while suggesting the possibility of a traffic light.

Miner said, “That intersection is going to have to be changed for safety reasons.”

Hum said, “That’s going to be a major project. That intersection and 300 feet … that’s a football field … and I hope they have a ‘Plan B’ if it costs too much.”

Miner said OMEGA money cold be sought through the regional Appalachian Commission and expected to have more information after attending the March 19 meeting.

Durbin, the zoning commission secretary for the township and in attendance, suggested later in the meeting that if Buckeye Transfer hired its own engineer that could help “compress” their schedule by eliminating a number of state procedures.

“It can be a lengthy process,” he said, but if Buckeye Transfer hires its own engineer, “all he (Buckeye Transfer) needs is your OK.”

Hum said, “That would be great to shorten it up.”

Durbin said the state is encouraging “public-private partnerships.”

Miner said a lot of the procedures will be spelled out by ODOT.

No action was taken.

In other business, Hum advised the board that Ohio House Bill 59, effective on Jan. 1, 2014 regarding regulations of septic systems is “bad news.”

As it stands it forces the county health board to pay $20,000 for certification costs, something the townships will “probably have to help” out with.

He also expressed concern about costs for residents with systems that have problems.

Larry Shields can be reached at lshields@salemnews.net