Currently, traffic on the closed portion — from east of North Pleasant Drive to the Ohio-Pennsylvania border — consists of an average of 75 to 100 trucks per day, and those trucks are transporting waste and equipment in and out of the cleanup areas.
According to East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick, the road will reopen to local traffic in the evenings and overnight, beginning Monday, as the cleanup work has progressed enough to allow the reopening.
“We now have that light at the end of the tunnel. Taggart Street being closed has had a huge impact on this community, and we understand that, but our top priority has been, in conjunction with OSHA and everybody, is safety,” Drabick said.
It will remain closed during working hours for safety.
The following schedule was released:
- Phase 1: Beginning Sept. 25: Taggart Street will remain closed from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Overnight, it will be open in both directions for traffic, though safety controls will remain such as signage, reduced speed and flaggers.
- Phase 2: Beginning Oct. 23: Traffic will reopen in both directions all day, with periodic traffic stoppages of up to 15 minutes or more during the daytime for trucks moving in and out of the area.
- Phase 3: Anticipated at the end of the year: E. Taggart Street will continue to be open with intermittent traffic stoppages until the project is complete.
According to a news release from Unified Command, there are no anticipated health risks along the road associated with the project activities, though clean-up-related odors may exist. Monitoring will continue in the area, the release stated.
Taggart Street should be fully reopened by early 2024, according to Drabick.
Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order, telling FEMA to oversee the long-term recovery in East Palestine. Ohio’s request for a major disaster declaration will be held open.