Washington City Council members this week authorized Mayor Sandy Lucy to send letters to Warren and St. Charles counties and the town of Augusta encouraging them again to take action to improve unsafe conditions along the Augusta Bottom Road.
The council’s decision came after members reviewed a letter drafted by the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee last month which called for the city to take a strong stand on fixing or closing the road which serves as a connection between Washington and Augusta.
Councilman Tim Brinker, who sits on the transportation committee, said the bottom road has been a continuing agenda item almost since the committee was formed in the 1990s.
Recently, the city helped fund a safety analysis of the road which pointed out specific safety improvements that could be made, especially in the Augusta Parkway area where the road is bordered by large ponds. A 16-year-old Washington girl died in 2010 after her car ran off the road and into one of the ponds.
In the past, the city has assisted Augusta with grading the Augusta Parkway area.
City Administrator Jim Briggs this week recommended that the city not assist Augusta with the parkway area anymore due to possible liability issues.
Brinker remarked that committee members have been frustrated with the inaction by Warren County or Augusta to move on making safety improvements.
“What this (letter) will do is point out the issues raised in the study,” Brinker said. “If they don’t act, we should look at legal action. The committee felt strongly enough to put those entities on notice to act or be acted upon.”
Following is the committee’s letter to the mayor and council:
“Members of the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee urge the Washington City Council to take a strong stand regarding unsafe conditions on the Augusta Bottom Road in Warren and St. Charles County.
“The city and MoDOT recently funded a study of the road which resulted in a number of engineering recommendations to improve safety on the road. Chief among those is the need to install guardrails along the Augusta Parkway portion of the road which is bordered by large ponds.
“Relatives of a 16-year old Washington girl, who died when her car crashed into one of the ponds in 2010, have said they can raise $75,000 to pay for guardrails or other improvements. The committee feels strongly since the study has been completed, and money has been pledged, that it is imperative that steps be taken immediately to implement the safety recommendations and that those be undertaken by the responsible parties, namely the Township of Augusta and/or Warren County, to prevent another tragedy from occurring.
“As a first step, the committee recommends that the city send a letter to responsible parties urging them to proceed with installing guardrails or closing the road. If the responsible entities do not begin taking steps to improve safety on this dangerous road in the near future, the committee recommends that the city of Washington take whatever legal action may be necessary to close the road, or sections of the road, for the protection and safety of its citizens.
“While the committee concedes that neither it nor the city have the authority to close the road, the safety issue is so important that more needs to be done than just continuing to talk about the problem. This committee and other local entities have been pushing for improvements to the gravel road, built on top of a levee, for decades but nothing has been done.”