By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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City public works staff recommended to the council Tuesday evening that the city not move forward with two single-lane traffic roundabouts suggested in a consultant's report, which cost the city $100,515, for the intersections of Lauridsen Boulevard and Lincoln and South Laurel streets.
The council took no action on the recommendation.
“It's very expensive with no significant benefit tied to it,” Public Works Director Glenn Cutler said of the roundabouts, adding, “The cost benefit isn't there to spend the money.”
The city will move forward with replacing the 43-year-old Lauridsen Boulevard bridge — described as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete — under a $4.5 million contract with Scarsella Bros. Inc., Cutler said.
The Kent-based contractor is currently completing the U.S. Highway 101 widening project between Port Angeles and Sequim, and the Deer Park Road overpass project, both under contract with Clallam County.
A federal bridge grant program will provide the city with 80 percent of the bridge's replacement cost, Cutler said, while the city will chip in the remaining 20 percent.
Construction on the new bridge likely will start in July or August, Cutler said, and wrap up in February or March of 2014.
East Eighth Street will be the main detour while Lauridsen Boulevard is closed at the bridge during construction, consultants contracted with the city have said.
The new bridge will feature a driving surface 18 feet wider than the existing one and include an eastbound center turn lane, two 12-foot-wide vehicle lanes and two 5-foot-wide bike lanes.
The traffic signal at the intersection of Race Street and Lauridsen Boulevard, just east of the bridge, also will be replaced as part of the project.
Concerning the suggested Lauridsen Boulevard roundabouts, Cutler said the city paid $100,515 last March to Olympia-based Exceltech Consulting to help complete a traffic study and design four initial alternatives for roundabouts and intersection upgrades along Lauridsen Boulevard.
The point of the study, which estimated traffic flows stretching into 2035 and development of alternatives, was to determine how best to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, among other things, along Lauridsen Boulevard, Cutler added.
Single-lane roundabouts at Laurel and Lincoln streets along Lauridsen Boulevard — on either side of Albertsons — were the preferred alternative and received preliminary approval from the state Department of Transportation, city civil engineer Jim Mahlum said, though the project's $2.2 million price tag was deemed too expensive for the benefits it would provide.
“In my opinion, there are higher-priority needs the city should be pursuing,” Cutler said.
The city's not moving forward with the roundabouts also puts on hold the development of an alternative truck route leading from Highway 101 south via Race Street and west along Lauridsen Boulevard, Cutler said.
“That's not on the near horizon,” said Cutler, adding that such a route would need separate City Council approval and go through a public review process.
“I would say it's not something being actively pursued.”
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.