The North Albany intersection of Gibson Hill Road and Crocker Lane should be turned into a full roundabout, but not right away, the city council decided on a split vote Monday.
Mayor Sharon Konopa broke a 3-3 council tie for a proposal by Councilor Floyd Collins to plan for a modern roundabout because that would be the best permanent solution once North Albany is fully developed with housing in perhaps 20 or 25 years. His motion was to put the roundabout in the city's plans for five years from now, to start working on designs and property acquisition in the meantime, and to do something about improving sight clearances at the intersection right away.
A modern roundabout has been estimated to cost $1.4 million to build, not including the price of buying parts of adjoining properties. The project would be funded from transportation system development charges (fees imposed on new construction), and the city doesn't have enough SDC money to do the project sooner.
The high costs of a roundabout in relation to street needs elsewhere in town weighed heavily on Councilor Rich Kellum, particularly since the intersection meets traffic standards now. Transportation analyst Ron Irish told the council the intersection already meets the conditions for a traffic light, but it also currently meets capacity standards for making left turns.
Kellum opposed the roundabout motion along with Bessie Johnson and Dick Olsen. Councilors Ray Kopczynski and Bill Coburn supported it, along with Collins and the mayor. Coburn also suggested that temporary traffic signals might be considered as a stop-gap measure until increasing traffic makes another treatment necessary.
Other options studied by a consultant were all-way stop signs, a simple or a more expensive signal layout, and a small roundabout. In a sounding of public opinion, a plurality of respondents in an online survey favored the big roundabout, but a roundabout also got sharp criticism from others in the survey. (hh)