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Petition critical of Anthony Lakes Highway design
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
One Haines rancher is trying to change a highway, and he has the backing of many of those who live along and around the Anthony Lakes Highway.
Mac Kerns recently sent a petition to the Federal Highway Administration's Western Federal Lands Highway Division in Vancouver, Wash. He'd obtained several pages of signatures after placing the petition at the Sell-Rite General Store in Haines.
In part, the petition states that "As reconstructed the intersections are unusable, unsafe and don't facilitate smooth traffic flow. This road is a farm-to-market road being used by cars, pickups pulling stock trailers as well as semi trucks and trailers with an overall length in excess of 75 feet."
The intersections he refers to six in all were originally formed in a "Y." Roads converging with Anthony Lakes Highway met the road in line with the highway, past the curve.
Now those secondary roads have been kinked so they meet the highway at a near 90 degree angle closer to the curve. Vehicles must travel farther into the turn before exiting the road.
Kerns said this new design isn't compatible with large vehicles.
"If you've got a vehicle with any length on it, they're impossible to stay within their lines and what they've tried to design," he said.
The design of the intersections also makes left hand turns off of the Anthony Lakes Highway difficult for cars.
The highway still needs a layer of asphalt to be complete, and Kerns hopes that the petition will influence construction before the final phase begins.
"If the whole community signs it, it should carry a little more weight," he said.
Baker County Roadmaster Ken Helgerson said the road project will resume in May. Plans for the Anthony Lakes Highway construction began in 1998.
The highway changes that Kerns is concerned about were designed to federal standards, Helgerson said.
"They turned them slightly to give more visibility," he said.
Helgerson is staying in contact with the federal engineers from the Western Federal Lands Highway Division as to the condition of the road, and said that they have received a copy of the petition.
"They're going to have their engineers and designers down to look at it and see what they can do," Helgerson said.
Jim Pinkelman, spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, said, "The Anthony Lakes Road construction project will bring important safety benefits to local citizens and visitors alike. We've had several meetings and considerable public input during the planning and the design phases of the project.
"We plan to meet further with them to address any additional issues they raise as we move foward on the project."
Representatives will be here around March 1 to survey the road, and then the construction will resume in May, Helgerson said.
"They want to be paving by the first of June," he said.
In the meantime, the county is "cold-mix patching" the deep, damaged areas potholes between Haines and where South Rock Creek comes into the highway, he said. The potholes emerged after the chip seal layer was complete last fall.
At the upper end of the highway, they will fix it using finer rock because the cold patches have to be removed before the road is paved.