Bike path project angers neighbors

Residents say the path is too close to their homes.

The bike path is part of a $6 million project that included widening Austin Boulevard to five lanes. It includes extending the bike trail in a plan that widened a 0.4-mile section of the road east of the Interstate 75 interchange.

James A. Hicks, 89, who built his home on Austin Boulevard in 1980, said he is unhappy with the project because he doesn’t have a say in what will be done with his property.

“They keep bringing the road closer to us,” he said. “Now we don’t have much of a front yard left at all.”

Residents have also complained that the bike path and road-widening project have increased noise around their homes and forced them to lose years of landscaping in their front yards.

The path could be moved again even closer to the homes of the complaining residents, according to a county official. The 10-foot-wide path was intended to be built farther away from the road, Paul Gruner, Montgomery County engineer said.

“The contractor built it a little too close to the roadway,” Gruner said last week.

The county is exploring other options, but cyclist safety is a priority, Gruner said.

“Safety is our primary concern,” he said. “We’re evaluating what the best engineering solution is for this situation.”

The project has been controversial from the beginning because the county acquired the land through eminent domain.

Some property owners along the route have been compensated and the county is continuing to work with their attorneys to determine how much some of the remaining properties will receive, Gruner said.

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