Some Council members want the city to consider roundabouts instead of adding left turn lanes to solve traffic problems on state Route 91.
Three intersections are being studied for a preliminary design to widen the road for left turn lanes -- Valley View Road, Herrick Park Drive and Hines Hill Road where they intersect state Route 91 on the north side of town.
Council approved a contract 6-0 Feb. 3 with MS Consultants Inc. to evaluate the addition of left turn lanes and the installation of a sidewalk, bike lanes and paving from Brandywine Drive to Middleton Road in 2019. The Middleton Road won't be considered for this project, said city engineer Brad Kosco.
Federal funding would pay for 80 percent of the project, with a maximum of $1.83 million. The city is responsible for the remaining costs, according to city engineer Thom Sheridan.
"We're looking at three lanes for turn lanes which could become a precursor to multiple lanes on [state Route] 91," said Council President Hal DeSaussure at a Council workshop Jan. 27.
Instead of three lanes across, DeSaussure asked about roundabouts for any of the intersections. A roundabout is circular intersection where traffic flows naturally from all four adjoining roads. A well-known example is in downtown Tallmadge.
"We're going to look at the downtown impact and see if lanes are needed," Kosco said. "A roundabout may be an option. We won't throw anything out the window before we start."
"State Route 91 is a main corridor, and we don't want to slow traffic," Kosco said.
"In my experience not many of the drivers around here know how to use [roundabouts]," said Council member David Basil.
"I know a lot of people who don't know how to use traffic lights," DeSaussure said. "With roundabouts you don't get T-bone accidents."
The plan includes installing a sidewalk along one side of state Route 91, but Council member Dennis Hanink asked the city to consider a trail instead of a sidewalk as an option rather than bike lanes or widening state Route 91.
There are two different bicycle riders, Hanink said. Casual riders and serious riders who ride in the street for longer distances and faster speeds.
"Frankly, I would like my grandsons to move around the community, but I don't want them to use the bike lanes on 91," Hanink said. "But if they had a trail, then that would be a better alternative."
This is the design phase and will help determine the direction the city takes, Kosco said.
The city is looking at options for turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and bike trails along state Route 91 from Middleton Road to Brandywine Drive. He said they will look at different scenarios, including roundabouts, and options, plus costs.
The plan will be reviewed by Council in 2016 for a final design phase, Sheridan said.