Lillian Giles says she's been marooned amid a sea of highways.
Since the state realigned her driveway as part of work on the new intersection of Route 648 and Ritchie Highway, the 74-year old widow says she can't pull out of her driveway on to Route 2 during the day without risking her life.
"I'm no racehorse. . . . And Lord have mercy, with these cars coming it's almost impossible to get on the road. I don't go out during afternoons any more," Giles said, complaining that she had to wait 20minutes for a safe gap in the traffic one recent afternoon.
"I'vebeen here 70 years, since before there was a Governor Ritchie Highway, and I never had any trouble getting out before this (road construction) work. I live alone and I feel I need (state project engineer) Mr. (Michael) Murphy or somebody to find a safe way to get out on the road. That's what I think is fair."
But Murphy says he's already done as much as he can, and even
more than he's required to do to correct Giles' problem.
"We looked at other possibilities, but it was too dangerous to bring her driveway around (to 648). She'd be blindsided. What I did was open up the driveway wider than we're requiredto. There's no problem right now," Murphy said at the site Tuesday.
Murphy said other inspectors from the State Highway Administrationwill be out to look at Giles' entrance before the intersection is opened for traffic later this month.
Giles' problem is caused by thesolution to "Malfunction Junction," the six-way morass where Robinson Road and 648 crisscross Ritchie Highway.
The new configuration brings the Ritchie Highway-648 interchange about half a mile north along Ritchie Highway to a point about 40 feet north of Giles' house. The elderly widow's yard is now a peninsula surrounded on three sides by highways and a continuous right-turn lane.
Making matters worse,theSHA built a curb pointing her driveway at a 45-degree angle back into northbound Ritchie Highway to discourage White Road traffic fromdriving the wrong way up Ritchie Highway and using her driveway to get to the back of Joe's Seafood and other businesses.
"I have an inlet but no outlet now, anybody can see that," Giles said.
When the new section of 648 is finished, the right lane in front of her driveway will be a continuous right turn lane.
Mike Johnston, spokesman for the SHA, said Giles' driveway -- formerly known as Town Neck Road -- is "OK as far as width goes," but he said administrators involved with the project from the regional office "didn't know of any criteria" to judge its safety.
Johnston said yesterday that the SHA is"trying to determine" whether the county owns a right of way in the back of Town Neck Road that could be paved to allow Giles another exit from her home.
Giles, who remembers playing on the mounds of dirt in front of her house when the state built Ritchie Highway between 1936 and 1938, is despondent.
"First they took my backyard for theroad and now this. It seems like whatever you own they can just takeaway any time. I would move out if I weren't so old."