Some issues seem to linger forever, with no closure in sight. It isn’t that solutions haven’t been proposed, or that efforts haven’t been made, but a successful ending of the problem just hasn’t happened.
Take the Augusta Bottom Road for example. The condition of the road, the responsibility to maintain it, the fact that it is on a levee, its importance as a shortcut from the north side of the Missouri River to Washington, the fact that it involves three counties and the city of Washington, it has been battered by floodwaters and repaired to make it passable many times — all of these are side problems that have added to the complexities of the issue.
Much time has been spent on all of these side problems to no avail. It has been studied by many officials and volunteers who serve on boards linked to the issue.
The main trouble part of the road is in Warren County, which has been reluctant to assume 100 percent responsibility. Lately Warren County officials have shown some interest in solving the problem. But its resources are limited and the fact is, it is more important to the city of Washington and to residents in St. Charles County. The portion of the road in St. Charles County has been maintained well by that jurisdiction.
A plan has been advanced to move the road off the levee to the north side and build a completely new road. That would be nice and a sound solution. But right of way would be needed and the total cost is high. Also, in the midst of efforts to improve the road lately, a tiny village has been created along the road, which creates another problem. Efforts to warn motorists about the hazards on the road have been made.
The city of Washington has tried over the years to lend a hand by providing a motor grader and driver to assist in the maintenance. It legally can do that. One could argue the city of Washington has an obligation to do that since it is in the Washington School District. It has been used by emergency vehicles because it’s a shortcut to the hospital and many people who use it do their shopping in Washington and that’s where they go to see their doctors, for other services and all kinds of activities. There is no question that the road’s link to Washington is important.
The suggestion was made some time ago that the city of Washington annex that portion of Warren County all the way to and including the city’s airport. Then a couple of property owners in Warren County created a village.
What brought all this to mind is that there is a lawsuit that names the city of Washington as a defendant in a wrongful death petition. The death was due to an accident on the road. A judge has denied a motion to drop the city as a defendant because of its small amount of work to help maintain the road. The town of Augusta was dropped after a settlement was reached. The terms of that settlement have been sealed by the court.
Also dropped as defendants earlier were Franklin County and Three Creeks Village. So with the city of Washington, the other remaining defendants are St. Charles and Warren counties.
The lawsuit gives evidence that the remaining defendants are liable for more legal actions.
Who could blame Warren County and St. Charles County if they closed the road that is in their jurisdictions?
That would be an inconvenience to many people on the north side of the river, even a safety factor involving getting to the hospital quicker, but the liability issue has directed more light on the liability of keeping the road open.