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‘Safety factor is the issue’

“The safety factor is the issue with me,” said Mervin Lehman at the joint county commissioners-county council meeting Monday morning. Lehman related a story to the group about his experience on CR 200N Friday evening.

“Myself and our family were traveling from the east at about 10 o’clock Friday evening and were right in front of Glen Miller’s place. Two vehicles were behind me and lights were visible from the west,” Lehman said. “The first car behind us passed as we were going up the hill. The second car hesitated about five seconds and then pulled out to also pass. He was right beside our buggy when the car coming from the west crested the hill. There we were three-abreast on the top of the hill. The guy coming from the west saved us all. He kept his cool, braked, and took to the ditch on his side. He saved everyone from a horrible fate.”

The story was told following the presentation of the CR 200N Committee report. Members of the committee are Richard Yoder, Michael Strawser, Ben Taylor (representing the county council), County Commissioner Garry Heller and County Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill.

The committee report indicated that they were willing to spend $1.5 million on the project and to include the road from CR 675W to CR 425W.

Heller spoke up and said that he voted against the proposal in committee. “$1.5 million can’t do the job,” he said. He also noted that the committee voted against recommending the expenditure of $2.4 million to fix-up a 1.2-mile stretch of the road that includes a large part of the safety issues.

The committee report also included a covenant that asked for all property owners to donate the right-of-way needed for the project. There are 34 property owners involved and engineers have estimated that the rights-of-way will cost some $200,000.

Councilman Ryan Riegsecker said that it looks like the committee is looking at this from a financial point of view, not from the viewpoint of what it will take to make the road safe. Other councilmen also voiced concern about voting for a sum of money before the outcome is known.

Irvin Slabaugh, who lives very close, was opposed to having a stop sign erected on CR 200N at the junction with CR 500W. He indicated that this would raise the noise level from semi trucks stopping (jake brakes) and starting up again.

Dorothy Hostetler, manager of Pallet One, offered to host a public meeting at the company’s place of business to view drawings of engineer’s proposed remedies.

The question seems to be whether or not there is someplace between $1.5 million (an amount the committee  majority is willing to spend) and $3.4 million (an amount that engineers have projected to be the cost of a plan that has community support) where there is a balance between cost and safety.

The committee will meet with Structure Point engineers to seek possible answers.