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U.S. 150, Parkland Heights road projects dominate Greenville Council discussion

Highway would be expanded by 10 feet on both sides to create center turning lane

August 20, 2008
Widening streets and highways were the main concern at the Greenville Town Council's regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 11.

The council discussed the preliminary preparations for a special meeting concerning the proposed state project to widen U.S, 150 through town that is scheduled for Sept. 8 at Greenville Elementary School from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The special meeting was set up at the request of Gov. Mitch Daniels so residents of Greenville may air their grievances and ask questions of state officials who will be in attendance.

For those who wish to know the exact specifications of the proposed project, the Greenville Council have a set of the U.S. 150 reconstruction plans available for public disclosure. To review the plans, contact the Greenville Water Company or the town's deputy clerk on Wednesday or Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the town hall.

Although the official plans were not to have been released until Aug. 18, the council already informed the town that the proposed reconstruction plan will add an additional 10 feet on both sides of the highway throughout the entire length of the town to create a center turning lane. This move would put some homes and business just a few feet off the highway and require the purchase of at least two properties by the state.

Council President Talbotte Richardson said the widening project could leave U.S. 150 closed for one to two years. If this happens, Richardson is convinced that the 15 businesses in town will go under and 150 people will lose their jobs. Only 3 percent of the town's business comes from in-town customers. The rest comes from people driving through on U.S. 150, he said.

Since this is a town concern and since it was set up by the governor with specific rules, the special meeting may only be attended by people who own land in Greenville. To enforce this, all properties in the town have been put on a list compiled by the town council. To attend the meeting, land owners must pick up a ticket at the town hall after Aug. 18 and show proof of residence. No more than two tickets per person will be allowed, and the total tickets issued must be limited to 375 due to fire regulations. Businesses and residents along U.S. 150 will be given first choice on the tickets since they will be affected by the project the most.

If unable to obtain a ticket, there may be tickets available at the door before the meeting, but no guarantees will be made.

In addition, the board has requested that all questions and concerns be submitted in writing upon receiving a ticket. The council will be the only ones asking questions at the meeting to avoid repetition and to present its case as efficiently and professionally as possible before the state, Richardson said. Each council member will be designated a category of concerns to compile and present to the representatives present at the meeting. Questions must be submitted by Sept. 1.

In addition to the council members, Butch Richardson will also be asking questions concerning the drainage issues of the new highway since his property will be the most affected by the drainage from U.S. 150. He has reviewed the plans of the proposed reconstruction and said that a culvert will be built beneath the highway. The state plans for all drainage and rainwater to run from the streets of the town to the highway and then down the highway to the bridge just outside of town. In addition to not believing the bridge can handle that much water, Richardson is concerned about the plans for the underground culvert to extend 73 feet into his property.

The state is not the only one with plans of widening roads, however, as the road through Parkland Heights in Greenville is set to be widened by 10 feet, as well. This move by the council was met with some opposition.

John McGehee of Parkland Heights presented his case before the council early on in the meeting. McGehee has been a resident of Parkland Heights for 14 years and admits to being deeply upset by this project, as well as the lack of communication involved in notifying those affected by it. McGehee claimed that he did not receive notice of the widening and only became aware of it when he noticed surveyors staking his lawn one morning.

The council informed McGehee that a notice had been placed in the newspaper and displayed at the town hall. McGehee argued that newspapers were not an effective means of communication in today's world. He admitted to not reading the newspaper and getting his news mainly from television, radio and the Internet.

McGehee's main concerns are for the safety of his three kids. He believes that a widened road will lead to increased speeds through the neighborhood and make it more likely that one of his kids could be struck by a car. He also mentioned that his driveway is only 50 feet long and that he owns three cars. If the road is widened by the proposed 10 feet, McGehee said he won't have anywhere to park his cars.

After McGehee made his case, President Richardson said he had looked at McGehee's property and the situation with his driveway.

Richardson said that he was considering siding with McGehee's proposal of only widening the road by three feet instead of 10 feet until he noticed that all the surveyor's stakes had been removed along the road. Someone had done McGehee a disservice by pulling up the stakes, said Richardson. He saw that act as an attempt to "intimidate him as a board member" and he no longer supports McGehee, he said.

"I'm in favor of this project because I won't be intimidated," Richardson said.

McGehee protested, saying that the stakes were in his yard when he left for work on Aug. 8 and they were gone when he got home. His neighbor's stakes were missing, too, and he didn't know what happened to them either.

Councilman Hazel Barclay, who represents Parkland Heights, was also in favor of the project, saying his main concern was about the school buses and their ability to safely move up and down the road while dropping off children.

Council member Patti Hayes also felt the need for the road to be widened. She has lived in Parkland Heights for 10 years and said she had heard about the proposal long before she even ran for council. She said she opposed the measure early on, but changed her mind when she heard about all the drainage issues the road is having and the deterioration of the pavement caused by heavy trucks. Hayes also expressed concern about the steep drop-off along the roads that could cause a bus to tip over if it happen to have a wheel go over the side.

Richardson spoke up again and added that three feet on either side was not enough to bond to the existing road and it would simply break off under stress. Ten feet is needed in order to ensure that the road will be stable.

With the town already moving forward on the project, McGehee asked that next time the town informs the residents with a letter, much like the state did with its letter about the widening of U.S. 150.

In other news, the town accepted an easement from the county for three parcels of property dedicated to future water projects. The council approved the easement, 5-0.

Don Lopp, Floyd County planner, was in attendance at the meeting. He spoke on the proposed interlocal agreement between the council and the county and presented a contract to be signed making the agreement official. The council signed the agreement between the town and the county that will promote comprehensive planning and zoning, which will help with fee structures and grant applications for future projects for the town.

The board approved the agreement, 5-0.

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