North Belair Road residents may not have to worry about four lanes of pavement anytime soon.
A compromise of sorts may be on the table.
"If the county consensus does not want it, then we need to look at alternatives," said Ron Cross, chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
At issue is whether North Belair Road - a two-lane road surrounded by mostly residential property between Washington Road and Furys Ferry Road - should be widened to four lanes. When finished, the project would complete a four-lane link between Furys Ferry Road and Fort Gordon.
But those widening plans have angered area residents.
The alternative would make a two-lane connector road across property between Industrial Park Drive and North Belair Road, along the same path outlined in the plan to four-lane North Belair.
The two-lane connector alternative could buy the county 8-10 years before officials would have to consider widening the thoroughfare, said Ronnie Hutto, the county's preconstruction engineer.
"But we definitely need to make provisions for our through-traffic," he said.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials are studying alternatives for easing traffic congestion in the area and are expected to have a recommendation for commissioners in the coming weeks.
"We want to have something to present to (the DOT), if we are not happy when their report does come back," said Cross.
Another advantage of going with the two-lane alternative is that the county could shift the funding focus from North Belair Road to Washington Road. Local leaders are pushing to at least add a center-turn lane between Flowing Wells and Belair roads.
Cross said that stretch of the road - home to Publix, the new Goodwill store, an under-construction apartment complex and other new businesses - has been the scene of many accidents.
Hutto said if commissioners want to put the focus on Washington Road, state transportation officials probably will agree.
"What you perceive to be out needs is what they'll listen to," he said.
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