April 5, 2011
This warning sign has been placed on the St. Charles County side of the Augusta Bottom Road to alert drivers to slow down in advance of the road changing from paved surface to gravel as it extends into Warren County.
Just beyond this spot is where a 16-year-old Washington girl died last fall when her car skidded off the gravel portion and overturned in the pond in the background. Washington officials have been pushing for improving the gravel road for many years.
Citing the low number of accidents and the road's high usage, the Warren County Commission reopened Augusta Bottom Road Thursday - five days after being closed temporarily following Volmert's fatal crash.
The fatal crash involving a Washington teen last month was the only fatality to have occurred on the stretch of Augusta Bottom Road located in Warren County in the past 12 years.
During that same period, from 1999 to now, 64 motor vehicle accidents have been reported, according to data requested by Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Two fatalities, just over three weeks apart, have renewed debate over the need to repair the road and add safety measures.
Motorists use Augusta Bottom Road as a shortcut between Washington and St. Charles County. The portion of the road in Warren County is gravel, while the St. Charles County section is paved with asphalt.
Two separate traffic count studies conducted this month found that more than 600 vehicles travel the road daily.
Of the 64 accidents in Warren County, injuries were reported in 19 of the crashes, while 44 involved property damage. The road has seen a significant increase in crashes with 43 having been reported since 2006, according to the study.
The Augusta Bottom Road route is 3.6 miles long and takes approximately seven minutes to complete. The Highway 47/94 route through Dutzow is 6.6 miles long and takes approximately nine minutes to complete.
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A hunter from Washington, Mo., was killed after driving his truck off the side of Augusta Bottom Road in St. Charles County this morning.
It is the second fatality on the highway in the past month, and authorities in St. Charles and Warren counties have closed the road until the situation can be studied further.
Joseph Volmert, 38, of Washington left his house about 5 a.m. to go deer hunting near Augusta with relatives, police said. But he lost control of the truck, veered off the road and struck a tree. His Ford pickup truck was found off the side of the road near Emke Road about 8 this morning, in an area where the road is raised 10 to 15 feet over the flood plain. Volmert was ejected through the driver-side window and found near his truck in a shallow pond, police said.
On Oct. 22, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School student Ella Neier drowned after a one-car accident on the road.
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