The revised plan of the Lucas County Engineer’s Office to formally rename most of old U.S. 24 as South River Road received near-unanimous support during a county commissioners’ hearing Tuesday afternoon.
“We have paid our dues. We have earned the right to keep the name of our road: South River,” resident Betty Lloyd said after estimating that a new road name would require her to send out at least 36 change-of-address notices — something she already did two decades ago when officials renumbered the houses on U.S. 24.
Several other people who had signed up to testify in the Lucas County commissioners’ chambers at One Government Center then said they had nothing to add to Mrs. Lloyd’s comments beyond praising the recent opening of the new U.S. 24 freeway between Waterville and Napoleon, which they said has made their road much safer.
County Engineer Keith Earley’s office, which originally proposed renaming all of old U.S. 24 under its maintenance as Anthony Wayne Trail, formally recommended at the hearing that only the short piece between Waterville’s north city limit and Dutch Road be so named.
The rest is proposed to be called South River Road, eliminating the official use of several other names, including River Road, West River Road, and Toledo-Napoleon Road — the latter of which appears,among other places, in the county atlas Mr. Earley’s office issued last year.
County commissioners Pete Gerken, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and Carol Contrada said that barring some last-minute controversy, they expect to accept the recommendations during the regular Tuesday commission meeting next week.
The new U.S. 24 opened Aug. 29. Except for the portions within Waterville and between its junctions with State Rts. 295 and 578, old U.S. 24 is to be turned over to the county for maintenance.
State law obliges the county to name the piece of road when it takes it over.
Mr. Earley’s office on June 20 sent letters to property owners announcing plans to use Anthony Wayne Trail for the entire roadway, and in response received dozens of emails and letters that mostly objected to that choice and supporting South River Road instead.
Mr. Earley told the commissioners Tuesday that, for consistency’s sake, the county also should add the South River Road name to the piece of old U.S. 24 the state is keeping and has already renumbered to be part of State Rt. 295. State Rt. 578, which comprises the Grand Rapids Bridge and its approaches, also has been changed to Route 295.
James Bagdonas, Waterville’s city administrator, said the new plan would be “very consistent with what we have in the city,” where the River Road name veers off the old U.S. 24 alignment on the south side of town to follow the Maumee’s north bank.
“One thing we can agree on is the name of this road is very confusing,” Mr. Bagdonas said.
The only dissenter to speak was Maria Georgiafandis, who lives on old U.S. 24 close to the Lucas-Henry border and said the proliferation of River Roads in the Maumee Valley confuses delivery services and emergency responders.
“I really don’t want a River Road of any type,” she said, adding that she had already sent out change-of-address notices based on the county’s first letter announcing the choice of Anthony Wayne Trail.
“For the last two months, we’ve been getting our mail perfectly, and EMS loves it,” she said, describing Anthony Wayne Trail as a name with “lots of history.”
But postal officials at the meeting said that regardless of which name was chosen, they would make sure mail continued to be delivered accurately by putting a special notice in the local addresses manual to identify the road’s various historic names.
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