Road Patrol: Chestnut Ridge Heights

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NEWBURG, W.Va. – Big potholes filled with rainwater because of a poor ditching system that hasn’t been repaired in roughly a decade — that is the “nightmarish” scene that is Chestnut Ridge Heights.

Eugene Matlick has lived on the road since 1965 and said things were not always so bad, but over the last decade the road has been ignored by the state, leaving it to erode. Matlick said the most that are ever done to improve the road is when it is patched, but that makes little to no difference. That, he said, is because the ditches, or lack thereof, are the real problem.

“If water lays on the road you know what that means, it means the road just keeps deteriorating with the water,” Matlick said. “You have to shed water off the road or you don’t have no road.”

To try and remedy the problem, Matlick said he and his neighbors have had to clear out the ditches themselves. He said they have used tractors, pitchforks, shovels, and other methods to clear the ditches because when it rains many peoples’ homes get flooded.

Just recently, one of his neighbors had their garage flooded, he said, and had to spend hours cleaning it out, as well as digging a ditch to stop another occurrence of flooding.

Erica Morris, Matlick’s neighbor, said she has had her vehicles damaged many times due to the poor condition of the road. She too agreed that ditch work was the key step to repairing Chestnut Ridge Heights.

“First they need to ditch it,” Morris said. “It means nothing if they don’t ditch the road. If you come up the road you can see where the water is going and eroding away the road, if they don’t ditch it there is no point in doing anything. They don’t maintain the ditches, there’s still no point in doing anything because it’s a waste of money.”

Morris, like Matlock, said it is frustrating to see road crews patching the road as they did early on in the summer because that just deteriorates after it rains heavily. She said she understands that the onus isn’t on the workers, but the state, which has been negligent.

The same state government that won’t fix her road, Morris said, is the same one that turns around and lambasts she and her neighbors when they try to plow the road in the winter.

“We don’t even get our road plowed in the winter, you can’t plow this, it’s dangerous,” Morris said. “And then anybody that has a tractor and tries to plow out their neighbors gets yelled at by the State because we’re ‘damaging their roads’. Yeah, that makes it a little frustrating because you’re on a hill, under a couple of feet of snow and your neighbor is getting yelled at for damaging the road because he’s trying to plow out his neighbors.”

Both Morris and Matlick said they are tired of calling to complain about the road and just want to finally see something done.

“We’ve been promised,” Matlick said. “We were promised last fall that this road will be fixed, now they say September, so I don’t know whether we’ll get it or not. I sure do hope so.”

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