VIENNA - Drivers in Vienna attempting to ignore "one-way" signs and lines of orange construction cones on Warren Sharon Road have brought about the need to add police coverage on the road.
Only about one-third of a mile of the road is closed to eastbound traffic between Bonnie Brae Road and state Route 193 while a sewer line is being put in place, but reports have been made on cars cutting through lawns and having near head-on collisions.
"With progress comes construction, and with construction comes traffic problems" police Chief Andrew Pecchio said.
Pecchio said he originally had two officers at the site, but the construction company downsized the coverage. Over the weekend, Pecchio said he received a text message from a resident in the area showing two vehicles almost colliding head-on in the one-way section.
In an email Sunday to other trustees and county engineers, township Trustee Phil Pegg called the situation "intolerable" and said it is "jeopardizing the safety of (the) community."
The $2.3 million project was approved by the Trumbull County commissioners to connect sewer lines from Liberty to Vienna. The fourth of the five phases runs in front of Matthews High School, which will have to reroute buses when it reopens for the year on Aug. 25.
"I received a call from Chief Pecchio yesterday that we again had wrong-way traffic on Warren Sharon Road resulting in near-accidents, vehicles in yards / driving on grass and diving across the grass behind the church to the high school property and then out the back," Pegg wrote in his email.
Pegg said he will be insisting that there is an officer on scene for six days a week or that the eastbound lane is reopened.
Trustee Richard Dascenzo Jr. said two-way traffic during the construction was never going to be an option for the location, but that the trustees, construction company and county engineers have discussed the traffic issue. They came up with the same solution as Pegg - an officer will be on location throughout the construction to ticket drivers attempting to drive the wrong direction.
"I can't ignore these kinds of things and let people get killed," Pecchio said. "I hope the company understands that."
At the same time, Pecchio said the issue boils down to drivers blatantly ignoring the posted signs.
"People know they can't... You know how people get some times," he said.
Meanwhile, a petroleum odor and the discovery of soil contaminated with low levels of petroleum have halted progress on the project for 14 days.
The 40-day project was delayed while officials sorted through concerns over worker safety and what to do with the dirty soil, said Rex Fee, executive director of the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer's Office.
When workers return, which is expected to happen Thursday, they will wear protective clothing and respirators as ''precautionary'' measures, Fee said.
The soil will be disposed of in the Carbon Limestone Landfill in Poland, which is approved to accept the contaminated dirt.
It's believed the petroleum seeped into the ground decades ago from two petroleum tanks near the former Airport Chevrolet on Warren Sharon Road. The 500- and 1,000-gallon tanks were filled with sand and sealed in the 1960s and 1970s, Fee said.
A short detour re-routes drivers to state Route 82. Construction is expected to be completed in 2015. The project is paid for by a combination of state and federal grants and loans.
Reporter Ron Selak contributed to this story.