Road Project Forces Homeowners Out

By: Karen Campbell Email
By: Karen Campbell Email

Several homeowners living in one historic part of Harrisonburg are being forced to move out of their homes.

They say city leaders are taking away another piece of the neighborhood's history.

Leaders are planning to construct a 5-lane road to accommodate increased traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians.

"It's our next big road project," said Richard Baugh, Harrisonburg City Mayor.

It's a $14 million road project along Reservoir Street that has some homeowners upset.

Diane Smith and her daughter Tammy are among them.

"They were just going to take a portion of the property. Then come to find out they were taking my whole house. Well it (the road) was coming right through my living room," said Diane Smith.

City leaders say the project was first introduced to the public back in 2008.

Blueprints show a five lane road that includes a bike and pedestrian lane.

Back then Rodney Eagle was mayor.

"It's been a hot item for quite some time, not just on Reservoir Street but our entire infrastructure within the city," said Eagle.

"It's a tough area and one that the city has been trying to improve for a number of years," said Baugh.
The Smith's say they don't see the need to add more lanes.

"The way they speed out there now, it's just going to get worse," said Tammy Smith, who has owned her home for a few years.

City leaders say the extra lanes are needed because the area is growing in population.

"We get all sorts of bottlenecks there. I would say during heavy traffic times that the University and Reservoir intersection is probably one of the toughest ones in the city to get through," said Baugh.

It's also tough for the Smith's to leave everything they've ever known.

"All of us there are like family. We all know each other. We All grew up together," said Diane Smith.

Smith says she's lived in her house for more than 45 years, and that the city isn't just taking away homes, they're taking away history.

"My grandfather lived in a little building behind it (my house) so it is very sentimental," said Diane Smith.

"I feel like the city doesn't care. How could they come and take your home and think that it's easy for you to just go somewhere else when you've been there your whole life?" asked Tammy Smith.


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