Roundabout delayed for a round of public comment

Permanenent construction of the roundabout for Fifth Street and Edmonds Drive was delayed Thursday as city supervisors opted to send its design out for one more round of public comment.

The move will delay the start of construction on the roundabout by two weeks, Street Operations Manager John Flansberg said.

After prompting from one resident and Supervisor Pete Livermore, supervisors decided with a trace of reluctance to let the public have one more look at the design.

They were convinced that the design had had plenty of opportunity for public comment before the Regional Transportation Commission decided to make it permanent in September 1999.

"I don't think anything is going to change," Supervisor Kay Bennett said. "If we put it out (for public comment) we're going to hear a reflection of what we've already heard.

"It's unfortunate that it's more expensive than we anticipated, but I think if we're going to make this decision, let's do it right. We'll look back five years from now and say we're glad we did it then and we did it right."

The cost of the roundabout was about $85,000 higher than estimated at $205,724. The roundabout was estimated at $120,000 when city transportation officials decided to make it permanent. A stop light for the intersection is estimated at $180,000.

"When you put a dollar amount out in front of the public that doesn't come close to the actual number, people wonder when you're going to stop," Mayor Ray Masayko said. "This is not the first project that has come in significantly over budget.

"It's really important we do the best job we can when we scope the price of the projects. But we can and will do a better job on that."

Supervisors were ready to approve the contract for the roundabout when Livermore showed up to ask for the public comment period. Livermore has been recovering from heart bypass surgery and was at home watching the meeting on television.

"I've had numerous comments from people who live in River Knolls and Eagle Valley subdivisions ... that this should be elsewhere in the community," Livermore said. "Please give them all the comment they want. Give them one final hearing."

Ed Neidert, who lives off Fifth Street, told supervisors he has hired a lawyer in the event he or his family is injured in the "dangerous" intersection.

"We were told three things (at an informational meeting last year.) One, we were told it would be less expensive than a stoplight, two, it would be safe, and three, that the issue would be revisited in a year and a decision would be made with the input of the public," Neidert said.

"Everything I heard there was false. I don't know what to believe anymore. I'm expected to believe that (the new design) is safer. What are you people going to do if you're wrong?

"I hope I'm making a bunch of fuss about nothing. I hope you're right. I have to live with your decision and so does my family."

On the other hand, resident Jake Le Fleur lives in the same neighborhood and said he "believes in the concept of the roundabout.

"It is unfortunate when this was introduced the design was inadequate," Le Fleur said. "The public has gone through some of the learning process. If I can survive it as it is designed now, I can live with it. It may not be perfect, but it is the way to go."

Supervisors said they weren't going to make everyone happy.

"People are still going to be opposed to it, some in favor of it," Masayko said. "We're going to defer this until June 1, but the message is clear that on June 1 we will make a decision."

City transportation officials recommend the roundabout be built despite its cost because it decreases the time it takes to get through the intersection and moves traffic with significantly less congestion than the previous four-way intersection.

The roundabout's efficiency could save the city money by delaying such projects as expanding Edmonds Drive to four lanes.

The roundabout was installed in April 1999 as a Nevada Department of Transportation experiment. The city decided to make the roundabout permanent in September 1999 partially because it was estimated to be cheaper than a traffic signal.


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