Public opinion was generally positive Thursday night during a Georgia Department of Transportation open house, where officials met with residents to discuss a proposed construction project along Washington Road near Leah.
The department is proposing the addition of a southbound passing lane from the area of Ridge Road in Leah to just north of Keg Creek Drive. A second phase of the project calls for replacing the Keg Creek bridge and grading the area for improved visibility.
The project, not set to start until 2010, will require a yearlong detour of all traffic along Washington Road, transportation officials say.
As proposed, the detour would take northbound motorists west on Cobbham Road from Pollards Corner to Phinizy, where motorists would take Ray Owens Road north back to Washington Road in Leah. Southbound motorists would take Ray Owens Road south from Leah to Phinizy, then east on Cobbham Road to Pollards Corner.
That detour drew the ire of some residents, including Steve Hoover, of Appling, who commutes daily along Washington Road.
Hoover said the detour would add nine miles each way to his and his wife's commute to Savannah River Site. Though he said he was in favor of the project, Hoover said the added miles would be inconvenient and costly.
"It's a good idea, and hopefully it will make that area a whole lot safer," he said. "(But) it will be hard on some of us for awhile."
His comments largely summed up remarks from many of the 24 residents who attended the first hour of the detour meeting, said Greg Smith, an engineer for the proposed project.
Pastor Sonny Jones, the leader of Word of Life Church, said the project would add four to five miles each way for his parishioners from the Martinez-Evans area.
Still, he said, "The project, I feel like, is behind the times and should have been done years ago."
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