ODOT announces river safety initiative


By Michael Ullery - mullery@aimmediamidwest.com



The Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 is beginning a new program aimed at better identifying highway bridges over the Great Miami River. The program places signage (upper right) on each state-controlled bridge along the waterway, giving kayakers, canoeists and others a way to better pinpoint their location for first responders in the event of an emergency.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 is beginning a new program aimed at better identifying highway bridges over the Great Miami River. The program places signage (upper right) on each state-controlled bridge along the waterway, giving kayakers, canoeists and others a way to better pinpoint their location for first responders in the event of an emergency.


Duane Gaier, director of the Sidney Parks Department and Great Miami Riverway Coalition, speaks during a Wednesday press conference in Troy regarding ODOT’s new initiative to place signage on state-controlled bridges over the Great Miami River, providing a way for those using the Great Miami River to better locate their exact position to first responders in the event of an emergency.


TROY — The Ohio Department of Transportation has announced a river safety initiative aimed at keeping those who use the Great Miami River more aware of their location in the event of an emergency.

During a Wednesday morning press conference on the banks of the Great Miami River in Troy, officials cited several incidences in which those faced with possible drownings or medical emergencies had struggled to pinpoint their location.

Capt. James Verdin, of the Middletown Fire Department, said, “As an emergency responder, I’ve seen firsthand how it is not easy in many circumstances to locate someone in the river. Anything we can do to help more quickly connect recreational paddlers and safety personnel in an emergency, the safer it’s going to be for those who use our waterways. We applaud ODOT’s effort.”

The initiative involves placing signs identifying bridges over the rivers along the Great Miami River within ODOT’s District 7, which serves Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery and Shelby counties. Signs will be placed on all state bridges from Sidney to Hamilton to the Ohio River, according to ODOT District 7 Deputy Director Randy Chevalley.

Providing these street signs on bridges over the Great Miami River is another way District 7 is keeping up with ODOT’s mission to provide safe travel for Ohioans,” Chevalley said. “This project also shows the power of ODOT partnerships with local communities and stakeholders.”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohioans, in 2020, registered nearly 270,000 paddle craft, ODNR also reported that 26 people lost their lives due to boating accidents in 2020, which is the highest number reported since at least 2017.

“We are grateful to ODOT for making the Great Miami River, Ohio’s only federally-designated national water trail, safer for paddlers,” said Duane Gaier, director of the Sidney Parks Department and chair of the Great Miami Riverway Coalition, “We hope ODOT’s example will also encourage local governments who own bridges on the river to follow their lead. Paddlesports in Ohio has exploded in popularity over the last several years and safety initiatives like these will help that trend to continue.

Gaier indicated that Shelby County officials are on board with participating in the placing of signage on their bridges, although no time frame was given.

Miami County Engineer Paul Huelskamp said his office has been studying the issue but has not yet taken any action.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 is beginning a new program aimed at better identifying highway bridges over the Great Miami River. The program places signage (upper right) on each state-controlled bridge along the waterway, giving kayakers, canoeists and others a way to better pinpoint their location for first responders in the event of an emergency.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/05/web1_052621mju_odot_riversigns1.jpgThe Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 is beginning a new program aimed at better identifying highway bridges over the Great Miami River. The program places signage (upper right) on each state-controlled bridge along the waterway, giving kayakers, canoeists and others a way to better pinpoint their location for first responders in the event of an emergency.

Duane Gaier, director of the Sidney Parks Department and Great Miami Riverway Coalition, speaks during a Wednesday press conference in Troy regarding ODOT’s new initiative to place signage on state-controlled bridges over the Great Miami River, providing a way for those using the Great Miami River to better locate their exact position to first responders in the event of an emergency.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/05/web1_052621mju_odot_riversigns2.jpgDuane Gaier, director of the Sidney Parks Department and Great Miami Riverway Coalition, speaks during a Wednesday press conference in Troy regarding ODOT’s new initiative to place signage on state-controlled bridges over the Great Miami River, providing a way for those using the Great Miami River to better locate their exact position to first responders in the event of an emergency.

By Michael Ullery

mullery@aimmediamidwest.com