Residents learn about road project

November 18, 2005|by TARA REILLY


Each day, 12,000 to 16,000 vehicles travel the two-lane stretch of Maugans Avenue between U.S. 11 and the Interstate 81 interchange.

Along that same stretch, Washington County has counted 85 accidents from 1999 to 2004.

With increasing residential development surrounding the road, county officials - who provided the aforementioned statistics - say the traffic and safety problems will get worse.

"A lot of development is happening, and safety is really a concern ..." county Chief Engineer Terry McGee said Thursday night.


McGee and Public Works Director Gary Rohrer told about 50 to 60 residents at a meeting at Maugansville Elementary School that widening Maugans Avenue to five lanes will improve safety and relieve some traffic woes.

But Maugans Avenue resident Cindy Clements didn't think so.

She said after the meeting that the project would put the road close to her house, and she would have to back out of her driveway into traffic.

There's currently a shoulder in front of her home that helps with backing out, but she said that will be gone after the road is widened.

"It's not going to improve my life - getting in and out of my driveway," Clements, who's lived on the road for 15 years, said of the project.

Clements said the county wants to buy a front portion of her property to accommodate the project, but she hasn't closed the deal.

She said she'd be better off if the county bought the entire property.

"We don't want to live there with a road right outside our door," Clements said.

The county has settled land acquisition deals with 21 property owners and is working on 17 other deals.

Construction for the $6.1 million project is expected to begin in May 2006 and be completed in August 2007.

McGee said he expected traffic to be an issue while the project is under construction.

"There's no way around it," he said. "We're going to have a bunch of traffic coming through the project."

The widening will add a lane in both directions and a center left-turn lane. A sidewalk also is planned for the south side of the road.

Rohrer said most of the project - about $4 million - will be paid for with revenue generated by the county's excise tax, which is a tax on new construction.

The remaining cost will come from several other sources, such as the county's general fund and bond proceeds.

Rohrer said the county will create a Web site that will contain updates on the project and whom to contact with questions.

"Is this going to be a fun project? No, it will not," Rohrer said. "It will be an inconvenience, but we are going to do everything we can to minimize that inconvenience."

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