Warren County coroner, Roger Mauzy, has seen his share of tragedy, but the deaths of 16 year old Ella Neier and 38 year old Joseph Volmert have Mr. Mauzy pushing for changes in the Warren County town of Augusta.
Both Miss Neier and Mr. Volmert were killed when their vehicles went off of what the coroner states is a dangerous stretch of Augusta Bottom Road. The almost two mile stretch through Warren County is positioned over a levee and only covered with gravel. With no shoulder on the road, frequent potholes, no lighting at night, and in some places up to a 10 foot drop off near water, the fact that there are no guardrails is of great concern not only to Mr. Mauzy, but many others in Augusta. So much so, that the family of Ella Neier, has raised $75,000 in pledges from private parties, to cover the cost of a guardrail.
It seems the problem could be easily solved, but in fact, there is now quite a debate going on over this road, which locals use every day and others from St. Louis and beyond choose for accessing some of the wineries in the area. The sticking point, for now, is that neither Warren County officials nor the town of Augusta will claim responsibility for the road. After the great flood of 1993 had enveloped much of St. Louis, St. Charles and surrounding counties, the town of Augusta lay gravel in an attempt to reconstruct the section of road in question. Warren County officials claim that though the road is within county lines, it actually belongs to the town of Augusta. However, since the flood, the neighboring city of Washington has actually maintained the road.
Though the city of Washington and the town of Augusta have both played a part in making the road usable after the flood, no one seems to be able to verify who actually owns the road. Apparently, there were no written records every filed and there are no surviving members of the original planning commission.
The coroner, Mr. Mauzy, seems confident that eventually one side or the other will give in, but in the meantime, he doesn’t feel that the speed limit signs recently posted are enough to save lives. Regardless of whether the guardrails are eventually allowed to be constructed through the use of private funds, or paid for by one of the parties involved in the debate, it seems the issue of ownership will need to be resolved should any future problems arise.
It will be interesting to see how this story develops. If you have an opinion as to how Warren County should resolve this issue, feel free to leave your respectful comments below.