The Douglas County Department of Transportation (DOT) is adding something extra during a scheduled repaving of Riverside Parkway: new bike lanes as part of the road shoulder.
“The lanes will run adjacent to the travel way on Riverside,” said Douglas County DOT Director Randy Hulsey. “The bike lanes will run from State Route 92 (Fairburn Road) to State Route 6 (Thornton Road) and will be five feet wide.”
Hulsey said the project is about 80 percent complete and he hopes it will be finished within the next month.
Design work was done in late 2016 and construction began early this year. Hulsey estimates the construction cost to be between $400,000 and $500,000, with the funding coming from the general fund, the Off-System Safety Program and the Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant.
However, not all county residents are happy with the handling — and expense — of the lanes.
“I’m not so much against bike lanes, I’m against how the lanes were approved without approval from the Board of Commissioners (BOC),” said Winston resident Roy Sparks. “The money was not allotted in the budget.”
The bike lanes have been a source of controversy within the BOC as well.
During a BOC work session June 5, District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson defended the lanes, saying he strongly advocates for his district, which includes Riverside Parkway.
“I’m not here to be friends,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with advocating to an administration, ‘we want bike lanes.’”
Immediately following Robinson’s comments, District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider rebutted his points, saying that all commissioners need to work toward the good of the whole county and that money for the bike lanes should have been voted on by the entire board.
“We found two documents in public records about bike lanes, but nowhere did it come before the board [for a vote],” said Guider. “I thought the bike lanes were already there… This is not good representation when you just say ‘it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.’ It’s not, it’s everybody’s.”
Phone calls and text messages sent to Robinson for this story were not immediately returned.
Sparks called the bike lane project "Douglas Gate" during comments to the BOC at the June 5 work session, referencing the Watergate scandal that took down former President Richard Nixon.
"This is very, very serious," Sparks told the commissioners at the end of his comments. "This was a well-schemed plan. You and the citizens of Douglas County deserve a full answer on how this happened and you need to have safeguards implemented to stop this from happening again."