Road's condition upsets residents

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Siam area residents are frustrated by the hazards created from a narrow county road and what they feel is a lack of action by the county's Highway Department to solve the problem.
  "Everybody up here has been trying to get something done for two years," said Susan Shoemake, of 200 Franklin Lane who spoke with the Star about the road's conditions earlier this month.
  Franklin Lane turns off Siam Road at the House of Prayer Church in Siam. From the Siam Road turnoff to the 200-block area of Franklin Lane, the one-lane road rises up a sharp hill. A ditch lies on one side of the road below a steep bank that completely obstructs the view for motorists traveling north. Portions of asphalt along this portion of the road have given way, creating the ditch along a portion of the curve.
   "We pay taxes but we want to see our taxes at work," said Shoemake, who moved to her current address with her husband Harvey Shoemake roughly four years ago.
  Neighborhood residents say motorists frequently end up off the road from dodging oncoming traffic around the curve. Another Franklin Lane resident, Danny Norris, said his wife veered off the road and over the embankment to avoid hitting another car several months ago.
  Shoemake, Norris and others say their safety is in peril every time they pull out of their driveways given the road's condition - particularly the blind spot in the curve. Residents who spoke with the Star said they are willing to give the county two to three feet for right-of-way access to widen the road.
   "We just want to see our tax dollars doing for us," said Norris.
  Residents also claim they have gotten little more than lip service from the county Highway Department about solutions when expressing their concerns about the road. Shoemake said she had telephoned and sent letters to the department requesting repairs, but had seen little in the way of results.
   "Nobody cares because they don't live up here," said Harvey Shoemake.
  Carter County Road Superintendent Jack Perkins said on Tuesday highway workers had placed tiling along driveways near the road in response to road conditions. On Wednesday afternoon, several large rocks were visible as being placed in the ditch line to fill the drop off along the hill.
  "It has been there for 50 years," said Perkins of the road.
  Mildred Vaughn has resided on Franklin Lane for most of her 84 years and said she had essentially been forced off the road by oncoming cars due to its narrowness. Vaughn's residence is located near the top of a hill where the road flattens out. Vaughn said she always cautions her daughter to drive carefully when she leaves her mother's residence.
  "I have lived here all my life and the only thing that has been done to this road is patching a few little holes," she said. "Looks to me like the people in office could fix it for two cars to pass on it."
  A department funded by-and-large through state dollars, the county Highway Department maintains more than 700 miles of county roads from Gap Creek to Shell Creek. While four and five-lane highway projects built through state dollars raise eyebrows about growth for the county's transportation system, the county highway department has the responsibility of maintaining the county's existing rural roads that often serve as a lifeline to a few residents.