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Dangerous road to be widened and re-paved

February 25, 2007

Lee County -- People in Lee County call it a dangerous roadway, but now state money could help make things a little safer.

Commissioners say they've requested the Department of Transportation help widen and repave Graves Springs Road for two years now, without much success. Concerned citizens may have helped secure the funding after the most recent request.

Several serious accidents have happened on the narrow two-lane highway over the years, including some fatalities. One local resident rallied support from his neighbors for the road improvements, after his son was killed in an accident on Graves Springs Road.

Many drivers who travel the five-mile stretch say it's just too narrow, saying they have to swerve sometimes to avoid hitting others. After Chuck Botkin's teenage son Brian was killed in an accident on Graves Springs Road last year, he wanted to make it safer. So he started a petition asking commissioners to make a change.

"It's hard to get them to listen to one person maybe, even with the sympathy for me for Brian. But when you have that many signatures and stuff like that it tends to let them know at least their constituents are wanting something done," said Chuck Botkin.

He gathered up to 700 signatures saying the road is in poor condition, cracked throughout, with potholes in some areas, and much too narrow.

From the edge of the road to the center line it's only ten feet. But to meet DOT standards the lane should be at least two feet wider. Making the total width of the road 24 feet across.

County Commissioners and State Representatives say a resurfacing and lane widening project will take place, now that $276,000 of state money has been allocated.

"We think that it's a great project that will ultimately save lives, and it really does show what happens when a community comes together and works together," said State Rep. Ed Rynders.

After gathering signatures from concerned citizens, Botkin handed the list to commissioners and his state representative.

"It was more or less to let the commissioners know, the people out here in this area, just to express their needs," said Botkin.

Now those needs of a safer road will be met, after a concerned citizen uses a tragic experience of his own to help others.

Graves Springs Road is a county road, and the state allocates some money toward fixing up some of these roads each year. State Representatives Ed Rynders and Bob Hanner and State Senator Joseph Carter attended a recent DOT meeting to help secure the funding.

Commissioners say county money will also go toward the project. They'll begin accepting bids soon, and hope resurfacing will start by July.

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