AUSTINTOWN Residents discuss ODOT's Route 46 project
Area residents want to be compensated if their property is used for the project.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Marvin McBride has to raise his voice to be heard over the traffic rushing by the corn stand on state Route 46 near Red Apple Drive.
Many cars seem to travel almost bumper to bumper, with little regard for the 40-mph speed limit on the two-lane road.
"The traffic is very fast here," said McBride, who has been working at the stand for four years.
Herb Risley, a Wilcox Road resident, retired state trooper and McBride customer, said he's been at the scene of several crashes on the road. Many accidents were caused by drivers who followed cars too closely or failed to yield to speeding traffic when making a left turn, he said.
Risley said he thinks an Ohio Department of Transportation plan to widen the road will help prevent accidents.
McBride added, however, that the corn stand may have to be moved to allow for the widening. The stand, which has been selling fruit and vegetables since World War II, is about 15 feet from the road.
"They're going to help some people, but they're also going to hurt some people who live here," McBride said.
Local residents will have the opportunity to comment on the project during a public meeting at 5 tonight in the Mineral Ridge High School cafeteria. Information about the project also will be available at the meeting.
The project calls for Route 46 to be widened from New Road to Silica Road in Austintown. ODOT also is planning on resurfacing the road and installing drainage improvements, traffic signal upgrades, sidewalks, pavement markings and signs.
The work is expected to cost about $6 million and start in spring 2005.
Route 46 resident Deborah Wagner said she moved her flower garden away from the road several years ago. Wagner said she understands that the road has to be resurfaced and improved to accommodate traffic.
"It's the main artery; it has to be kept up," she said. "It's progress; it's got to happen."
Wagner added, however, that she thinks the widening project will pave the way for Route 46 to become a retail center.
"I don't want it to turn into a little Boardman," Wagner said.
Lisa Knutti, also of Route 46, added that she was worried the project could draw more drivers. She said the increase in traffic could endanger children.
About ODOT's plans
ODOT spokeswoman Jennifer Richmond said the project was designed to improve safety while also reducing intersection delays. The project calls for turning lanes to be added at Route 46's intersection with New Road, Norquest Boulevard and Silica.
ODOT also is planning to buy Rumors Lounge and Rocky's Corner Tavern near Mahoning Avenue and a home near New Road, according to Keith Shepherd, a realty specialist manager for ODOT's northeast region. The three structures would be demolished, Shepherd said.
McBride stressed that he thinks local residents like himself should receive compensation for any private property taken or changes made to allow for the project. Other residents echoed McBride's comments.
Route 46 resident Sal Settimo said that if ODOT takes a 10-foot-wide strip of his property, he should be paid $10,000.
Richmond said maps of the property that would need to be bought for the project will be on display at tonight's meeting. ODOT also will rent some of the land so that it can be used by construction crews during the project.
Shepherd noted that an independent appraiser will be used to determine the value of the land to be purchased. He said ODOT most likely will make offers next summer.
ODOT also is thinking about widening and improving Route 46 between Blunt and Seaborn streets, which fall between Webb Road in Austintown and Youngstown-Salt Springs Road in Weathersfield Township. Funding for that project has not been obtained, and no date has been set for the work to begin.