Residents opposed to widening Warm Springs Road to four lanes with a concrete median and some turn lanes will address Columbus Council today during its 5:30 p.m. meeting.
Critics say the plan is too expensive, damages the neighborhood and reduces the value of property along the stretch west of Hilton Avenue, where doctors’ and dentists’ offices and assisted living facilities border the road.
Among the opponents is dentist Darcy Leerssen, who sent city leaders a letter saying he has had a practice along the road for 30 years and adds, “we don’t need a Manchester Expressway to adequately improve traffic flow now or in the future.”
Another critic of the plan, Jim Pound of the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Citizens Advisory Committee, wrote in a January letter to the state Department of Transportation that 12,940-21,200 vehicles daily used the road in 2006, but that dropped to 9,590-13,090 in 2008.
Opponents have questioned whether the more expansive widening would divide the neighborhood, creating a hazardous, high-speed expressway that would be dangerous for children and other pedestrians to cross.
Writes Leerssen: “In that same section of road we have Hannan Elementary School with hundreds of kids, many who will be walking home to Ashley Station. Ashley Station has almost 400 families and approximately 800 children who would have to cross a much more dangerous and wider roadway.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation said recently that 150 pieces property must be purchased for the project, at a cost of about $14 million. That’s not counting the construction cost.
“We have retained a traffic engineer to educate us and present a logical solution if a court battle is necessary,” Leerssen writes councilors. With the road plan cut from its current scope to three lanes, “our engineer predicts a savings of $13-$19 million,” he writes.
Leerssen and Pound are to address council on its public agenda this evening.