No one willing to yield on Cherry Street plans

No one willing to yield on Cherry Street plans
The 40 people who left the Vermillion City Council meeting following discussion on the proposed Cherry Street project knew one thing for certain when all was said and done Monday.

No one is willing to yield.

It appears that at least two factions are on a collision course right now. One group favors the state's plans to widen a portion of the street to five lanes.

Another group, which has gathered over 300 signatures on petitions, is trying to convince the state that five lanes would pose hazards.

It appears that, ultimately, the state will decide the street's final design in time for work to begin in 2008.

Monday, the DOT clearly demonstrated a preference to a five lane street.

"The ultimate goal is a good quality, safe project," Ron Peterson, area DOT engineer, said. "We want to use the $4.6 million of taxpayer dollars wisely and serve your future needs. Hopefully, we enhance the development of your community."

The plans call for widening Cherry Street between James Street and Cottage Avenue to three lanes with shoulders, replacing the section between Cottage and Plum with three lanes, and widening the section from Plum to Crawford Street to five lanes.

Judy Clark, who became involved in the petition drive against widening the street because of her activity on the board of directors of SESDAC, Inc., told state officials that Vermillion would be well-served in the future with a three lane street.

She worries that the people of SESDAC would face added dangers trying to cross a five lane street.

"It's not just SESDAC," she said. "You have school kids coming into Vermillion. The buses park in the parking lot of businesses of Cherry Street, and the kids pour out and run across the street."

Barbara Yelverton pointed out to the city council and state highway planners that several communities in the nation are beginning to realize that traffic can be moved more efficiently on smaller roads that promote safety and slower speeds.

For every opponent to the project, however, state officials heard testimony from those who favor improvements to the street.

Evie Johnson, a member of the USD Student Association, said a majority of students who took an unsci-entific poll in the Volante, USD's student newspaper, were in favor of the project.

"If you keep it four lanes, there will be accidents," she said. "Until there is a tragedy, nothing will be implemented

unless it is implemented now."

Howard Willson, who regrets that leadership bowed when Cherry Street was last improved in 1980, and made a portion of it three lanes wide instead of four, agreed.

"If we don't do it, it will show people that we are regressive and not progressive," he said. "I would like us to consider not going backward."

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