Roundabout meeting set
March 20, 2006
MINDEN – Everything you wanted to know about the state’s proposed roundabout here but were afraid to ask may be answered March 29.
Nevada Department of Transportation officials set a meeting for 7 p.m. at the CVIC Hall in Minden to take public input on the traffic calming device for the busy intersection of County Road and Highway 88.
Minden is so eager to host the event, officials waived the $50-an-hour fee to rent the hall.
Minden Town Board Chairman Ross Chichester said the town has asked the state three times to schedule a meeting for the public about the controversial $500,000 roundabout.
“We met with them in October and told them they needed to come down and sell it to the town,” Chichester said Wednesday. “We met in February and told them the same thing. Finally, in March, we asked again.”
State officials have been meeting with small groups of officials and some residents to answer questions about the roundabout, which has been roundly opposed by residents who have lobbied for a traffic light.
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A similar proposal at the “Y” intersection in South Lake Tahoe is being debated. City leaders are waiting for Caltrans to return with a design and engineering report before they can decide to proceed.
The price tag for the Tahoe roundabout is about $3 million. Only a third of the money to build it has been identified.
Town officials began putting aside money to pay for a traffic light 10 years ago, but, according to the state, the intersection didn’t meet warrants.
The state offered the roundabout as an alternative.
Fred Droes, chief safety/traffic engineer for the state Department of Transportation, said Thursday officials were eager to meet with residents.
He said the smaller group format allowed people to ask questions in a more informal setting.
“We always intended to go to a larger format. We’re hoping to see a large number of people on March 29,” Droes said.
At the smaller meetings, Droes said he’s attempted to clear up misunderstandings and misconceptions about the proposal.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority and we believe the roundabout is the safest way,” Droes said. “We’re going to provide information why the department believes the roundabout is an appropriate safety improvement we can make for the town of Minden and travelers in the state of Nevada.”
Droes said that after his presentation, he will answer all questions.
Department spokesman Scott Magruder said calls to his office indicated more people were in favor of the roundabout.
“We’re starting to hear a more positive swing,” he said.
He cited statistics from around the United States that indicate once a roundabout is installed, 75 percent of people who were opposed come to favor the device.
The busy intersection serves Douglas High School, Carson Valley Swim Center, the Carson Valley Meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a fitness center, the county library, a Montessori school, dance studio, several office buildings and the East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts station.
“This roundabout we have under design is going to be constructed in a way that will work. It will be wide enough for the hay trucks and the emergency vehicles,” Magruder said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel.”
Droes repeated the department’s position that the roundabout will not be forced on the community.
“The position from my director’s office is that we need approval to go ahead from the County Commission. The County Commission made it clear that they are relying on direction from the Town Board,” Droes said.
Town board Chairman Chichester made it clear the decision is to be driven by the citizenry.
“It’s the state’s job to convince the people who live here, not mine, not the town board’s. If that’s what the people want, that’s what we’ll do,” Chichester said.
“I think it’s more important than just a Minden issue. I think it’s a state of Nevada issue.”
IF YOU GO
Officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation have scheduled a 7 p.m. meeting March 29 at the CVIC Hall, Esmeralda Avenue, for a presentation on the proposed roundabout for the intersection of Highway 88 and County Road. Officials will make a presentation on the traffic device and answer questions. The meeting is open to the public. Information: 782-5976.
On th eWeb
Nevada Department of Transportation officials recommended several Web sites for information about roundabouts similar to the proposal for the intersection of Highway 88 and County Road in Minden.
Federal Highway Administration
New York State Department of Transportation
Kansas State Department of Transportation