Two of the three Warren County commissioners said while they will continue to maintain the portion of Augusta Bottom Road within their jurisdiction, they still have no interest in paving that section.
“This is a gravel levee road. It’s not an ordinary road,” said Presiding Commissioner Arden Engelage. He stressed that if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would direct that the levee be built higher in the future the county would have to tear out any pavement.
He made those remarks at Monday’s meeting of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee during a report on a safety audit conducted by the consulting firm of H. R. Green Co.
The city of Washington paid a percentage of a grant to fund the study of the road which for years has served as a vital link between Washington and the Augusta area.
Rick Brown of H.R. Green outlined a number of recommendations that came out of the study, including routine maintenance of the road surface, additional traffic control signs and other measures.
Brown told the committee that it may be more cost-efficient in the long run to pave the road rather than continuing to grade and rock the gravel surface.
“We’re not interested in paving the road,” Engelage said. “We did do all the recommendations made in the study.”
Brown noted that the road runs for 2.7 miles between Highway 47 in Warren County to Emke Road in St. Charles County. About two-thirds of the road is in Warren County, including the so-called Augusta Parkway which Warren County officials contend is not their responsibility because it was rebuilt by Augusta with federal funds after it was washed out by the 1993 Missouri River flood.
“We will continue to maintain our portion of the road up to the Augusta Parkway but we won’t go any farther,” Engelage said.
“Don’t forget, this is a levee that protects your interest in the airport,” Hubie Kluesner, southern district commissioner, told the committee.
Kluesner noted that the original road is under the levee.
The safety audit included a detailed listing of 18 accidents that occurred on the road between 2001 and 2010, including 16 in Warren County and two in St. Charles County. Of the 18, 15 involved vehicles that ran off the levee road, and in 10 of those cases the vehicles crashed into obstacles.
Engelage argued that a chief factor in most of the accidents was excessive speed.
He said when officials first met on the road to begin the safety audit, a driver came by driving 40 or 50 mph. The road has a posted 30 mph speed limit.
“Maybe we should spend more time policing the area and control the speeding,” Engelage said.
Bob Hofer, representing the town of Augusta, said Warren County graded the road smooth a week ago. He said he drove over the road Monday and “now the potholes are back.”