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Widening Maugans Avenue irks some

Residents in the Maugans Avenue area are concerned that if the road is widened it would add even more traffic. An official said

Residents in the Maugans Avenue area are concerned that if the road is widened it would add even more traffic. An official said

March 06, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The fear expressed Wednesday night by residents who will be affected by the proposed widening of Maugans Avenue from two lanes to five was that more road will just bring more traffic.

A public informational meeting at Maugansville Elementary School drew close to 200 people as well as a half dozen Washington County officials including Gary Rohrer, director of public works, and Terry McGee, chief engineer.

"We feel strongly about what we are proposing," Rohrer said. "But we want to give you - particularly the property owners - every opportunity to ask questions."

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Maugans Avenue now has two lanes. The widening would add a lane in both directions and a center turn lane to the section of Maugans Avenue that runs from Pennsylvania Avenue to Interstate 81. The center lane would handle left turns in both directions.

A sidewalk is planned for the south side of the roadway.

Construction on the project tentatively is set to begin in late spring or early summer of 2004, Rohrer said.

County officials have said a widened road is needed to relieve traffic congestion and to make travel safer and more convenient to the public.

Many in the audience Wednesday night said they believed the opposite would be true.

"How is five lanes dumping into two lanes (at Pennsylvania Avenue) going to solve anything?" asked Royal Road resident Steve Chamos. "Maugans Avenue is still just a local road."

McGee countered, saying that Maugans Avenue is hardly a local road anymore. It has become a main artery for people going to and from the interstate, he said.

"Pennsylvania Avenue and Longmeadow Road don't have nearly the volume of traffic as Maugans Avenue," McGee said.

Rohrer said he drove out Maugans Avenue at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and traffic on Maugans Avenue was backed up from Sheetz to the car wash.

County figures show that between 16,000 and 18,000 vehicles travel the stretch of Maugans Avenue from I-81 to Pennsylvania Avenue each day.

Several questions were raised as to why the road was to be widened to five lanes instead of just three.

"The answer is volume," McGee said. "We don't want to have to do all this again for another 10 to 20 years."

McGee said all efforts will be made to encroach less on the residential side of the road when the road is widened. "We're trying to snake this in with the minimum problems for everybody," he said.

Many people came early to look at maps and concept drawings. Following the presentation and a few questions, some went back to the maps to check out how the project would affect their street or neighborhood.

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