Philip and Alice Dibben were shocked when the state highway surveyorcame by last month and told them they would have to sell two acres of their small farm on Long Point to make way for a wider Mountain Road.
"We knew they were going to add a lane, which would take maybe 20 feet at the outside from us," Philip Dibben said. "I was just totally shocked when I saw that they were going to take between 110 and 130 feet out of our front for this drainage pond."
"They told us we weren't using it for anything -- even though that's our grazing area -- so they would be taking it," Alice Dibben said. "I've concluded that you never really own anything in this world."
The Dibbens, who run a 16-acre thoroughbred breeding farm with eight horses, are among the hardest hit of the residents along MountainRoad. Their property is one of two chosen by the state to hold drainage ponds needed to prevent an overload on local storm drains.
Most Mountain Road residents and businesses will be losing only between 10 and 20 feet of frontage, project engineer Bob Easter said.
"We're in the process of trying to cut back on some of these areas," Easter said. "We're very well aware of the need to minimize what we take."
The surveying teams working along Mountain Road are the first visible sign that improvements approved by the state legislature in 1986 are indeed coming. Rumors had the project being held up or canceledby recent budget shortfalls.
Plans call for a $16.3 million project beginning late in 1992 to expand Mountain Road to five lanes -- two each way with a continuous left turn lane -- from Route 100 to Maryland Avenue. A third lane, for left turns, would be added to the section from Maryland to Ventnour Avenue.
Sen. Philip Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, said the expansion is definitely coming, though it may be delayed if state legislators don't pass a gasoline tax increase this year.
Easter, of the SHA, said engineers and surveyors are proceeding as if the money had been approved.
Surveying parties are stakingout the right of way along both sides of the road and serving noticeto homeowners that the state needs their property.
Property owners will be receiving offers for their property based on SHA assessments in the next year. If they challenge those assessments or the state's right to
take their land, the state will take them to court and attempt to prove "eminent domain" -- that it is in the greater common good to take the property than leave it in their hands.
The MountainRoad project is scheduled to go out to contractors in June 1992 and will probably be under construction for two years, which assistant engineer Ernie Hodshon said will pose an "interesting challenge" for traffic engineers.
"It's a ticklish situation down there with all the schools and school-associated traffic," Hodshon said.
Traffic engineers usually count on rush hours running between 7 and 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.
But with all the schools along Mountain Road, engineers will have to clear it for maximum passage of traffic between 2:30 and 7 p.m. -- a logistical problem that will be aggravated by the factthat very few detour routes are available along Mountain Road.