Group opposes highway proposal
A dozen homes would be eliminated in Hunters Woods.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HOWLAND -- State highway planners faced a highly vocal and well-organized storm of opposition to part of their plan to alleviate traffic congestion in the Eastwood Mall area.
Some 200 people had already crowded into the Howland Middle School cafeteria before the scheduled start of a public information meeting Wednesday. At least 90 of them wore printed signs identifying themselves as members of the Hunters Woods Development Committee, which is opposed to the plan.
Hunters Woods is a group of about 200 single-family homes near the intersection of state Routes 82 and 46. Some 160 Hunters Woods residents have signed a petition protesting the plan, which calls for new access ramps that would displace 12 homes in the development.
Kiersten Deemer, of Shadowood Lane in the Hunters Woods subdivision, is a spokeswoman for the newly formed Hunters Woods Development Committee.
"The purpose of our committee is to help save our development from being defaced by the construction projects that they want to do to enhance the 46-82 bypass," she said.
The committee is opposed to the taking of the 12 homes, which she said would lower the value of all remaining homes in the development.
The committee agrees that there is some traffic congestion in the area, but it doesn't believe the congestion is bad enough to warrant the type of remedy being planned, she said.
"The projects that they're proposing are just going to be bringing more cars in at a faster rate, which is only going to encourage more congestion," she said.
The plan, presented by the Burgess & amp; Niple engineering firm of Akron and estimated to cost $132 million, calls for widening state routes 82 and 46 and U.S. Route 422, construction of a cloverleaf at the routes 82 and 46 interchange, and building a bridge to carry Howland-Wilson Road over state Route 82.
"This is, in fact, a conceptual alternative. We have not done final engineering. We're in an early planning stage," Mike McCarthy, project manager for Burgess and Niple Inc., said of the proposed new cloverleaf at routes 46 and 82. "People are here, and they're here to react, and that's a good thing, and we welcome that," he said.
The Hunters Woods petition protests the fact that, after the bridge is built, there would be no access from Howland-Wilson Road to Route 82. The petition will go to officials of Warren, Niles, Howland, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Burgess and Niple.
But Don Butler, of Pheasant Run in Hunters Woods, said he favors building the bridge. "That's a death trap the way it is," he said, referring to the way the two roads now intersect at grade with a traffic light regulating access. Under present arrangements, traffic traveling at freeway speeds on Route 82 must slow down quickly as the light changes. A Poland woman was killed and at least 10 others were hurt in a six-vehicle pileup there Aug. 25, 2003.
Howland Township Administrator Darlene St. George, who has attended project planning meetings, said she'd like to see access maintained between Howland-Wilson Road and state Route 82, but McCarthy said an interchange can't safely be placed there.
Also attending the meeting were representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.