The Hays City Commission on Thursday rejected a suggestion to install a temporary mini roundabout at the intersection of 27th and Canterbury later this year after Canterbury is re-striped from four lanes to three.
Mayor James Meier brought the idea forward after hearing it from a resident, and said the move would be a way to introduce the concept of a roundabout before a large investment is made for proposed permanent roundabouts on Vine Street to help with traffic control.
While the Canterbury intersection does not typically experience significant traffic issues, it does become congested at certain times of the day due to Hays High School and Hays Medical Center traffic, he said.
“I would say there are some problems there this might potentially solve,” Meier said. “I think, more importantly, the reason I wanted to bring this up is because if we’re serious about moving forward with roundabouts on Vine in whatever configuration we may talk about, I think this is a way to test whether or not that’s really a good idea and to do it really inexpensively before we would spend (millions of dollars) on something that may or may not fix our problem.
“I think the other part of it too is I don’t think we should be deaf to the people who are critical of roundabouts.”
The city in September heard a long-term plan from city staff to possibly construct up to three roundabout structures at busy Vine Street intersections in efforts to alleviate traffic concerns. Exact city costs and a proposed timeline for that project have not been determined.
Canterbury from 13th to 27th is slated to be diamond grinded as part of this year’s street maintenance program, and city staff and commissioners have spoken in favor of restriping the road from four lanes to three after the road work is complete.
The proposed roundabout on Canterbury would have been temporary, created with pavement markings and a mountable, raised center circle made of removable materials. The cost would have been approximately $5,000.
“My opinion is if we’re not willing to try it — and it doesn’t have to be here if there’s a better solution and another intersection — I'm fine with that,” Meier said. “But I’m not inclined to spend millions of dollars on something that we’ve not done before.”
Several other commissioners spoke against the idea, saying they weren’t convinced that particular intersection requires city action. But they also spoke in favor of pursuing the idea of permanent roundabouts on Vine Street, particularly at the 32nd Street intersection.
“I’m opposed to it. I think this is a really bad way to test it because, again, it’s not an intersection that has conflict,” Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said of the proposed Canterbury plan. “So if it works, how do we know it’s going to work in the other place? I’m more optimistic, quite frankly, about Vine Street.”
Commissioner Chris Dinkel seemed supportive of the idea, saying it might be a low-cost and effective way to help further control high school traffic during peak volume.
“I’m not counting on this convincing anybody that doesn’t like roundabouts to think this is now a good idea,” Dinkel said. “But I think this actually is an opportunity to show it working well, particularly with high school traffic.”
The intersection at 27th and Canterbury is controlled by a four-way stop. The affected portion of Canterbury Drive carries an average 7,500 vehicles per day, while East 27th carries 9,000, according to city data.
Commissioner Sandy Jacobs also spoke against the idea. With three commissioners opposed to the measure, the idea lacked support to move forward.
Commissioner Shaun Musil said re-striping Canterbury will be enough change for residents to absorb in that area, and also spoke against the temporary roundabout.
“The idea I think is great. I’m absolutely all in on Vine Street. I think it’s a good idea,” Musil said. “But people who hate roundabouts are going to continue to hate roundabouts, whether we put them in or not. I guess in a nutshell, I think we’re messing enough with their heads with the street realignments.”
For more from Thursday’s city commission work session, see Sunday’s edition or watch HDNews.net.