The topic of roundabouts proposed for construction on the city streets of Hays is back up for discussion after a break of more than six months.
City officials are proposing four roundabouts on Vine Street, the conceptual design of which will be on display at an open house Tuesday.
City of Hays Project Manager John Braun told the Hays City Commissioners at their regular work session Thursday evening in City Hall that everyone is invited.
The event is a come and go from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Venue at Thirsty’s Brew Pub & Grill, 2704 Vine.
It’s OK to show up at anytime, Braun said.
“If you show up at 7:15, still fine, you won’t have missed anything, we’re just there to answer questions,” he said. “People can come and mill about.”
The format will include a large poster in the middle of the room of a top view of Vine Street and the proposed roundabouts.
“People can stand around it and look, point, draw on it with white board markers,” Braun said. Also positioned around the room will be 10 different 42 x 42-inch poster boards with different topics for discussion.
The city’s engineer and representatives from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration will be there to answer questions.
“I just want to ask the citizens to come out, take the time, ask questions,” said City Commissioner Sandy Jacobs. “That’s what everybody’s there for, that’s what it’s set up for, it’s really exciting, and also some of the best stuff comes when you bring people together and ask questions. We don’t know what will come out of it.”
Two of the roundabouts straddle the north and south sides of the intersection of U.S. 183 and Interstate 70. One of those is a teardrop at the eastbound I-70 ramps. The other is where 41st and Mopar streets intersect with U.S. 183. That one would replace the existing raised median that currently prohibits left turns and cross traffic now.
“A roundabout would provide excellent access to and from that area,” Braun said.
At the I-70 westbound ramps, only right turns would be allowed, because there isn’t adequate space for a teardrop.
Further south at the entrance of the former Ambassador redevelopment is another roundabout.
Then at 32nd and 33rd streets, the proposed roundabout is an hourglass, so shaped to prevent people from accelerating and going too fast.
“It accommodates the WB 67 trucks, that’s a large sleeper cab with 53-foot trailer,” Braun said. “It would also accommodate oversize loads, such as wind turbine blades and tower sections to go on through north and south.”
The $9.3 million construction project is funded in part with a $6.05 million federal grant and will include ADA compliant pedestrian crossings, as well as a reconfiguration of 41st Street. Also, between 32nd and 37th streets, the frontage roads would be disconnected, which could cause more traffic volume at 35th Street, where Arby’s and Hikock’s Steakhouse are.
“To ease congestion there, we’re changing to three-quarter intersections,” he said, “which reduces the conflict points, improves safety and improves pedestrian travel north and south along the frontage roads.”
Motorists can still make right turns and left turns onto the frontage roads from Vine, Braun explained, but will only be able to make a right turn out. Motorists wanting to turn left will have to turn right, go to the nearest roundabout and make a U-turn, he said.
After the discussion, Mayor Henry Schwaller IV commented, “I’m still a roundabout skeptic.”
Braun explained that preliminary design will be complete in the next month or two, with final plans done by November. Right of way acquisition will start in May. Construction will start in the summer of 2020 and be completed by 2021.
In other action, city commissioners also reviewed the bids from eight different contractors for $1.1 million in street maintenance budgeted for seven projects in 2019. The low bidders were Circle C Paving, Goddard, Rejuvenator Proseal, ElDorado, Microsurface Vance Bros., Kansas City, Mo., and J Corp., Hays.