Residents at a public hearing Monday on the proposed reconstruction of Vienna's Park Street said they approved of the plan but still had some reservations.
About 40 residents raised their hands in support after Mayor Charles Robinson Jr. asked whether they "on balance" favored or opposed the suggested improvements, which include widening the roadway, adding a sidewalk and filling roadside ditches. Six people expressed opposition.
But in a statement typical of many at the meeting, resident Eric Honour called the plan "acceptable, although on the outer limits." He said he feared that a wider road would encourage commuters to drive through the neighborhood too fast. Also, he fears that utility poles would be so close to the road they would be a hazard for motorists.
The plan calls for widening 1.2 miles of Park Street between Maple Avenue and Fardale Street from about 20 feet to between 30 feet and 40 feet, but keeping two lanes. The plan would add underground storm drains, curbing and a sidewalk on the south side.
The state Department of Transportation would pay for 95 percent of the $2.5 million project, scheduled for completion in 1991. The town's share is estimated at $125,000.
Local and state officials have been trying since the late 1960s to find a way to improve the narrow, two-lane street, which has deep roadside ditches and pavement that tends to deteriorate in rainy seasons.
But two previous plans, the last offered in 1978, encountered vigorous opposition from residents concerned that roadside trees would be bulldozed.
To make way for the wider road, workers would have to chop down 40 trees, half of which are dead or dying, according to a survey by the state transportation officials. In contrast, a 1966 plan to build a 48-foot, four-lane roadway would have required chopping down 250 trees, said state transportation engineer Donald Wagner, and even the 1978 plan for a 36-foot, three-lane road would have destroyed more than 100 trees.
Public comment on the scaled-down plan was "much milder" than at meetings in the 1970s, said Wagner.
Robinson, who said he opposed the earlier plans, agreed that the new one appeared to be received more favorably.
"The last two proposals I violently opposed," said Park Street resident Archie Wiggs. "This particular proposal looks like it's gone a long way to meet the needs of Park Street."
In response to suggestions that utility lines go underground, Wagner said the the state would not pay the full cost of such a project, which he estimated would be $1.2 million. Robinson said the town would try to negotiate with the state but predicted that the negotiations would be difficult.
The council postponed a decision on the plan. If approved, engineering could begin in July 1988 and construction in 1990.
Council member Vincent Olson introduced a motion to direct the town staff to study putting the utility lines underground. "That seems to be the No. 1 concern of the public," he said. The motion also passed unanimously.