Perhaps a better title for this editorial would be, “Does the Augusta Bottom Road Have a Future?” We don’t know of a single road in this immediate area that has been the subject of as much discussion as has been the Augusta Bottom Road.
Now that Augusta has closed a section referred to as the Augusta Parkway, the entire hazardous road is shut down. Augusta took action because it has lost liability insurance coverage, and couldn’t afford another potential lawsuit. Augusta reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by family members of a Washington girl who lost her life in an accident on the road. Remaining defendants in that lawsuit are the city of Washington, St. Charles and Warren counties. All those entities at one time or another have done some maintenance on the road.
The road, a shortcut between Washington and Augusta, and points north, has been rough, mostly without barricades and damaged by flooding a number of times — the worst being floods of the 1990s. It’s a rock road on a levee except for a paved section in St. Charles County. The road is about 1.9 miles in length. Ownership of the road has been embroiled in controversy for most of its life. Unsuccessful title searches have been done several times, the state never wanted it, a few farmers depend on it, but for the most part it has been parentless.
Warren County did minor work on it over the years, but it is of no benefit to that entity. St. Charles County did improve a section that is in that county. The city of Washington also did very minor work. Augusta received some flood relief grants to improve a section of the road, and by agreeing to a settlement in the lawsuit, it appears that it has recognized its ownership of the “parkway” section. The farmers who have used it since the road’s birth and apparently have done some work on it, aren’t involved in the lawsuit. Franklin County and a tiny village created to block any attempts at annexation by Washington were dropped as defendants in the lawsuit.
It has value as a shortcut between Washington and Augusta. The levee serves a purpose also. If the road has a future, we can’t see it because our vision is blurred due to fatigue over the longstanding issues it has caused.