Plans to repair Route 518 get mixed responses

Some residents voice fears work will encourage more traffic and higher speeds.

By: Jill Matthews
   MONTGOMERY — County plans regarding improvements along a 6-mile stretch of Route 518 were met with mixed reviews at a public information session held on Thursday night.
   With approximately $6 million in state aid set aside to fix the portion of the county road stretching from Province Line Road to Route 206, county engineers presented improvement plans for a third round of public comment held at the Princeton Elks Club.
   Several residents expressed concerns about the improvements, including a fear that the widening of the roadway to accommodate larger shoulders and drainage might increase not only the number of cars that travel through the area but also the speed at which they drive.
   "If you build it, they will come and come and come," said one resident. "They do and they drive faster."
   "I don’t think anyone would object to these improvements if there is some way to lower the speed," said another resident.
   Police Director Michael Beltranena said his department conducted and submitted a speed survey earlier in the year in an attempt to get the speed on part of the roadway reduced. But, he added, the state has the ultimate say about whether the speed can be reduced.
   Dave Lorimer, assistant county engineer, said the county’s plans are aimed at minimizing the negative impacts on neighbors while increasing the safety conditions on the road. He said the widening of the road to accommodate adequate shoulders was necessary to provide a recovery area for an errant vehicle.
   While many residents expressed anger at parts of the plan, several others voiced their support for the county’s plans to improve the roadway.
   County-identified problems along the corridor include addressing sight distance and safety issues, creating adequate shoulders and drainage, and eliminating ditches.
   The county has said it does not plan to add new travel lanes along the corridor except at two intersections — Hollow Road and Spring Hill Road — where it may construct left-turn lanes.
   Mr. Lorimer said the improvements would likely occur in three phases and the county would consider the public’s comments before moving forward.