FAIRHOPE — Plans to widen Blueberry Lane in east Fairhope have some residents worried that the improvements will lead to increased traffic from local subdivisions.The Fairhope City Council …
FAIRHOPE — Plans to widen Blueberry Lane in east Fairhope have some residents worried that the improvements will lead to increased traffic from local subdivisions.
The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, June 13, to approve an agreement with the Baldwin County Commission to widen 1,630 feet of Blueberry Lane to a width of 18 feet at a cost of $110,000.
Blueberry Lane resident David Barr told council members that widening the single-lane route to the width of a two-lane road will change the quiet rural nature of the area and put more traffic on the lane.
"My concern is growing access," Barr said. "What the heck happened from Blueberry going from a county road, when we bought the property, it was a B-based road and it got one strip of asphalt, and now it is a city road. I had been told it was going to be an emergency access, a single lane road and now I read it's going to be a two-lane road and that's an extreme concern to all of us of the little community out there with our bucolic agricultural road that we were able to get into, turn it into really just another access to two subdivisions."
Mayor Sherry Sullivan said the road needs to be improved to allow emergency vehicles to use the route.
"The base is going to be better to be able to handle the weight of the emergency vehicles, the fire trucks, whatever it might be," Sullivan said.
She said she told Barr that city officials cannot restrict access to a public road and that other drivers, such as residents of nearby subdivisions, will be able to use the route.
"He did ask me about signage that says emergency vehicles only. I told him that's not something we can do because when you have a public road, people have the opportunity to use whichever route they choose to take," Sullivan said.
Other residents said that if the lane is going to be widened and used by other traffic, the roadway should be made into a standard street with curbs, gutters and striping.
"The sewers, the water, the utilities -- it needs to be a nice road, not just some rickety thing if we're going to use it for a main entrance now," resident Grant Hendrick said.
"We want it left like it is, but that's not going to happen," Hendrick added.
Hunter Simmons, city planning director, said Blueberry Lane is now a county-maintained road. He said city and county officials are discussing having Fairhope take over the road. During inspections of the roadway, engineers found that the base needed repairs to accommodate large emergency vehicles.
Council President Jimmy Conyers said most residents seem to want Blueberry Lane to remain as it is, but the road has to be improved.
"We kind of have different opinions," Conyers said. "The preference is nobody really wants anything done, but we're stuck where we have to do something so let's make it as minimal as possible to not attract people who are going to drive through."
Councilman Jack Burrell said city officials will discuss options with the county, including widening the street an additional two feet if residents want the roadway made into a standard two-lane road.