03/26/04 — Trees block ditch

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Trees block ditch

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 26, 2004 2:05 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Ashley Jones says he wants the state highway workers to clean up their mess.

He says workers with the state Division of Highways keep dumping fallen trees into a ditch next to the farm he oversees near Seven Springs. He says he's talked to DOT officials about it daily for the past three months.

Ashley Jones

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

The water is not supposed to be running in this direction, says Ashley Jones. He says he's been trying for three months to get the highway division to clean up the fallen trees itÍs been dumping into this ditch.

"Every time a tree blows down, the DOT workers push it into the ditch," he said Thursday. "It's been going on for years."

The ditch between the Neuse River and Rockford Church Road is deep, but it's filled in places with full-sized trees and branches and half-rotted logs that have been there for years. He said the ditch is supposed to run parallel to Piney Grove Church Road and empty into the river. But it's clogged and running into a sluice and backing up for about a mile on the nearby farm owned by Vera Willis of Seven Springs.

"If this mess was in front of Walnut Creek, the state would be all over it," said Jones. "Everybody gives me the run-around on whose responsibility it is. Ms. Willis has been talking with them for I don't know how long ... trying to get them to clean it up."

Two fields are under water because of the ditches, said Jones, who traps beaver and controls the hunting on Ms. Willis' farm. He said she has a field of last season's soybeans that are still in the ground because tractors couldn't get to them. The water from the ditch backs up into a horseshoe shape from the road, with one end of the horseshoe coming back toward the road at the Rockford Church Road intersection.

He said he's been trapping for Ms. Willis for about seven years, and the situation grows worse every year. "There are beaver dams up the canal that are under water because it's backed up so bad here," he said. "All of this is the state right-of-way."

Luther Thompson with the Division of Highways said the highway workers have not put the trees in the ditch. They fell in there during storms, he said.

"That's a swamp down there," he said. "I told him we can cut the trees and pick them up out of there, but we can't do any ditching."

Thompson said he's been trying to schedule the cleanup, but the excavator has been down for two weeks awaiting delivery of a part. When the excavator is fixed, he said, he will get some workers out there right away. "I told him I will work with him and do what I can."