A section of Route 5 in Evans won’t be reduced to three lanes, after all, the state Department of Transportation said Tuesday.
The DOT planned to reduce from four lanes to three the section of Route 5 between Sturgeon Point Road and Bennett/Eden-Evans Center Road, but had a change of heart after listening to concerns of town officials and residents.
“The town was very much concerned with people not having the ability to pass,” said Susan S. Surdej, public information officer for the regional DOT. “They were very much opposed to a change, so we’re going to put it back exactly as it was – as a four-lane section.”
Town officials understood the state would be repaving that three-mile stretch this month, but didn’t realize until recently that workers would be restriping the road, as well. Instead of two lanes in each direction, the state wanted to make one travel lane in each direction, a center turning lane and wider shoulders.
DOT engineers believe a center turning lane would reduce rear-end crashes.
Evans residents, on the other hand, said that reducing the number of lanes would make that stretch of Route 5 more dangerous.
“They remember when it was two lanes – and it was a nightmare,” said Supervisor Keith E. Dash.
Town officials and state representatives met with the DOT last Wednesday to voice their concerns and make their case.
One of the complaints was that there was never a public comment period for the proposed project.
“We don’t always go out for public comment,” Surdej said. “It just depends on the scale and scope of what we’re doing. We originally thought the town was on board and it turns out that was not the case. Certainly, once we realized there was a difference of opinion, we wanted to take the opportunity to meet with the town. We respect their wishes.”
“It was a very productive meeting,” Dash said. “It wasn’t confrontational. I was able to produce all of the concerns from our constituents.”
Milling is already being done on that stretch of Route 5 and repaving is expected to start next week, weather permitting, Surdej said.
“I think it’s another example,” Dash said, “that good government can work when you keep the lines of communication open.”