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Petition calls for paving part of Lincoln Gap Road

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08/16/2007

By Erin Post

The Warren Select Board voted Tuesday evening, August 14, to pave a section of Lincoln Gap Road after receiving a citizen petition that called the condition of the roadway a "major safety issue."

Seventeen Warren residents signed the document asking the town to pave 800 feet of the road beginning at the intersection with West Hill Road. This portion of Lincoln Gap Road "degrades easily," the petition states, and was impassable for several days this past March.

The road's condition compromises emergency vehicle access at certain times of the year, said several residents at Monday's select board meeting.

A SAFETY ISSUE

"That section I think needs to be done because it is very, very wet in there," said Cindi Hartshorn-Jones, speaking as a resident of the road. "I think it's a safety issue."

Laura Arnesen said her family was faced with a three-mile round trip walk to their home for about five days during mud season.

"The road crew is out there working hard and they're doing a great job," she said. "They can't solve it."

The same section of Lincoln Gap Road, along with a portion of West Hill Road, had been the subject of a public hearing in June. The board proposed paving both sections of road but opted not to after dozens of residents turned out to oppose the proposal.

IMPROVEMENT PLAN

The select board decided to hold off on paving until they could create a long-term road improvement plan based in part on a road analysis and a traffic study. Both documents should be available shortly, officials said.

That commitment the select board made to develop a town-wide plan prior to paving raised concerns for select board member Burt Bauchner. He argued against paving Lincoln Gap Road, calling it unfair to the residents who turned out at the last hearing.

"I think we have to act in some rational and organized fashion," he said, suggesting that the board open the issue to public comment again before proceeding.

NO ALTERNATIVE ROUTES

But select board member Barry Simpson argued that the situation on Lincoln Gap Road is unique -- and as a result deserves immediate attention -- in part because there are no alternate routes available to residents.

The town has also consistently made paving decisions in the past based on "local knowledge and experience," he said, a point that select board chair Mac Rood echoed.

"It's somewhat arbitrary to draw a line in the sand now," he said, although he emphasized that, in moving forward, a plan should be developed and discussed at town meeting.

ONGOING DEBATE

The issue stands to become an ongoing debate, suggested one Warren resident.

As houses and condos continue to go up on what are now dirt roads, officials may have to consider a certain population threshold as a trigger for paving, said Gene Bifano.

"I think that should be a serious part of your deliberations," he said.

After the vote to pave 800 feet of Lincoln Gap Road passed, four to one, the select board created a committee to begin gathering information and developing criteria for paving. The work is in preparation for additional meetings on the issue, select board members said.


Contact Erin Post at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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