AUSTINTOWN Residents air views on Rte. 46 widening

Some residents want more information.
AUSTINTOWN -- Frank and Mary Panchik don't have to look out their window to know that trucks are rolling down state Route 46 in front of their home.
They can feel it in their floor.
"You could hear all the vibrations off the road when the trucks come," Frank said.
Mary added that if the Ohio Department of Transportation follows through with plans to widen state Route 46, some of those trucks might come too close to her home for comfort.
"I'm afraid they're going to end up in my living room," she said.
The Panchiks joined about 120 local residents at a public meeting to discuss ODOT plans Tuesday night at Austintown Middle School. ODOT has proposed widening state Route 46 to five lanes between New Road and Norquest Boulevard. The New Road intersection would be widened to four lanes.
The $6 million project also calls for ODOT to widen state Route 46 to four lanes between Norquest Boulevard and Silica Road and to five lanes at the Silica Road intersection. ODOT also would create turning lanes on Norquest Boulevard and New Road at the state Route 46 intersections.
State Route 46 is two lanes, except at Mahoning Avenue, where it is five lanes. Construction is expected to start in spring 2005. ODOT said the project is needed to help improve safety along the road.
For and against project
Some residents at the meeting said they are looking forward to having the road improved.
"It should've been done a long time ago," said Jan Columbo of Maple Leaf Drive. She and her husband, Jeff, said they feel the project will help reduce traffic jams on the road.
Ron Riebe of South Raccoon Road added that the project could help encourage commercial development along the road.
Other residents, however, said they needed more information to determine whether the project would benefit the community. Karen Ramsey-Grittie of West Radio Road said she wanted to know how the road improvements would affect drainage in her neighborhood.
Still others said they felt ODOT could find better uses for its money. Joe Asteri of South Saratoga Avenue said he thinks the state could help alleviate traffic on state Route 46 by constructing a Kirk Road on-ramp for state Route 11.
Other concerns
A group of local residents and officials also has expressed concerns that the project would create a freeway that would bypass Austintown. The group includes township Trustee David Ditzler, who said ODOT could improve safety while encouraging commercial development along the road by widening it to four lanes with a tree-lined median.
ODOT will accept written comments on the project until April 4. Comments should be sent to the attention of William E. Murphy at ODOT, 705 Oakwood St., Ravenna, 44266.
Responses to those comments will be posted on ODOT's Internet site.

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