AUGUSTA, MO (KTVI) - It’s a deadly stretch of road in Augusta, Missouri, that was closed to traffic until someone tore down the sign. But what to do with Augusta Bottom Road, and who is responsible for it, was up for discussion at a public meeting Thursday night, held by St. Charles County officials.
It’s a complicated issue that dates back to 1993. After the flood, Warren County officials didn’t want to reopen their portion of the road. However, St. Charles residents need that road to get to Washington, so the town of Augusta, in St. Charles County, rocked and graveled a portion of the road to make it drivable.
Fast forward to 2010, when a teenage girl swerved off that very portion of road, and drowned in a neighboring pond. Since Augusta helped rebuild the road, the town was held liable. After the lawsuit, the town’s insurance no longer covers that stretch of road, so Augusta had to shut it down.
In order to officially close the road, however, a public hearing was needed. At this meeting, St. Charles County officials admonished Warren County for refusing to help fund safety improvements.
St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil explains, “Warren County, we feel, hasn’t stepped up to the plate. They’re not being a good neighbor, they want us to close the road, but we’re not gonna close it. We just spent $1.5 million on our portion of the road.”
St. Charles County residents could take State Highway 94 to Washington, but that’s 12 miles out of the way. Too far, they say, to access a hospital, schools and businesses. Kelly Latham says, “My wife drives to and from Washington every day, so it would be handy if she could go that way. It probably cuts 10 minutes off the drive.”
Terry Heisler, who owns businesses in both Augusta and Washington, wants to see the surrounding communities work together to fix the problem: “It sounds like it’s getting into a conflict of, I don’t want to do it, you don’t want to do it, and what’s our government but to help us businessmen make money so we can pay taxes?”
At the meeting, officials explained that the city of Washington, in Franklin County, cannot annex the portion of road to fund improvements because of a Warren County annexation in between. Augusta also can’t fund improvements since the road sits outside the town’s limits.
Brazil says the dangerous portion of road, just 150 yards long, needs guardrails to make it safer.