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Gebhard Road extension on the drawing board

CENTRAL POINT — City officials will host a pair of public hearings, including one tonight, to discuss design options for what will eventually become a major arterial for the city's future transportation needs.

Gebhard Road, a busy residential street near Beebe and Hamrick roads, could ultimately extend over some of the city's only remaining vacant commercial land and connect to Pine Street.

Community Development Director Tom Humphrey said the city's Transportation System Plan designates Gebhard Road as a north/south collector street extending from Wilson Road to East Pine Street, however a specific route for the southerly extension of Gebhard Road has not been identified.

Today at 6 p.m., at City Hall, 140 S. Third St., the Planning Commission will look at four alternatives for the Gebhard Road extension, and City Council will review the options in early August.

Humphrey said a handful of issues will be addressed as part of the process to select an option for eventual extension.

"We're basically figuring out how Gebhard Road is going to extend south from its current location through what's become known as "the Walmart property" to Pine Street, where for years we've known we will eventually put another signal," Humphrey said.

"Gebhard has a dangerous curve at Beebe, and there was a bridge that was washed out in the '60s that will eventually be replaced for additional access. We need to figure out what we're going to do to Gebhard, because if you wait until after a development project comes in, you don't have the freedom to design. You're being reactive instead of proactive."

Humphrey said stakeholders met in February and again in June to give feedback on the four design options.

With a recent uptick in commercial growth and additional residential development planned in the Gebhard Road area, Humphrey said he hoped the proactive approach would bode well for the city's future traffic needs.

"We just want to be in a position where, when somebody develops in the area, we can say, 'Well, this is how your portion of the road should be constructed,' " he said.

 A council meeting to review the Planning Commission recommendation is planned for 7 p.m. Aug. 13.