On Wednesday, September 16th, four members of the League of Women Voters met with representatives of Department of Public Works and the Federal Highway Administration regarding the possible expansion of the Raphune Hill road.
Currently, this road gets a grade of D (on a scale of A to F) in regards to its ability to serve its needed function. Projected out to 2030, this grade would most likely decline.
DPW and FHA have done research regarding options such as a new road that would go behind the hospital and meet up at the top of Raphune Hill. They have found this option not sufficient due to the steep grade of the hill in particular areas as well as the high environmental impact that comes with building a new road (cutting bare forest which causes run-off and encouraging more development along a new road).
Currently they are investigating 3-lane and 4-lane options for the existing Raphune Hill road. DPW will present their preferred option at a public hearing at the end of November. Most likely, it will be the 4-lane option as traffic data shows a need for an additional lane in both directions.
This project will be divided into 3 phases:
- Fall 2016: Expanding the road between Kmart & traffic light by Wheatley Plaza
- Fall 2017: Moving Rt 381 (where Villa Blanca's driveway is) to meet the main road across the street from the Al Cohen's Mall entrance
- 2019: Expanding the Raphune Hill Road
DPW stated that their ground samples have shown that the ground along the road is solid rock and, therefore, will likely not cause run-off problems. They showed images showing the proposed road with a retaining wall (if necessary) that is stone faced as well as a sidewalk with a low wall on the outside of the sidewalk to protect walkers from the edge. They are currently looking into adding some greenery between the road and sidewalk to protect walkers from drivers.
DPW is currently meeting with all affected property owners. Only one house will need to be demolished. This is the orange house on the inside of the hairpin turn by the dumpster. All other houses will be accommodated.
The League of Women Voters encouraged DPW to improve their public relations in order to better explain the project to the public. We also suggested better venues for the public hearings, as the last public hearing venue was not well suited for that purpose.
The League encouraged DPW to put Phase 3 before Phase 2, due to the fact that it benefits more people. DPW said they prefer the current option as they would need the time during Phase 2 to complete agreements (acquiring land and easements) necessary for Phase 3 to take place.
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