The Leavenworth City Council gathered for their scheduled bi-weekly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on January 10. The main discussion point during this meeting was a presentation by H2 Engineering on the Pine Street Phase II Study. The ongoing problem with the intersection and traffic flow on Pine Street, moving into Chumstick Highway and US Highway 2, has been a major issue, here within the city, for some time and this presentation had determination to seek a consensus of agreement within the council. Speaker and H2 Engineer, Devin Petit, gave an overall introduction and background as to the problem of this street and its involvement with the community.
There has been a multitude of outreach concerning the constant buildups happening within this area and Petit was offering solutions to the problem at hand. He classified this area as a “Rural Major Collector,” describing the amount of time one typically waits in traffic during a highly congested portion of the day. The waiting time exceeds normalities for traffic lights and causes poor decision making from drivers wanting to get through to their destination. His company gathered with utilities agencies to discuss infrastructure, ultimately coming up with 3 distinctive solutions to this highly traffic-prone area. Petit proposed options of a T-intersection, a single lane roundabout, and a double lane roundabout. He also gave a rough estimate of the total costs of these 3 options, according to current 2023 economical projections. The T-intersection would cost around $3,104,000, the single lane roundabout would be around $3,729,000, and the double lane roundabout would accrue to about $3,906,000. Taking costs and success rates into consideration, the council was determined to come to an agreement on a definitive solution during this meeting. One of the main issues with this project is the house that is nestled on Fir Street, making it difficult to have a solidified solution without relocation. The T-intersection would allow the residents to stay within the property, however, this solution seemed to be one that wouldn’t necessarily fix the traffic issue at hand. The roundabout, according to Petit, has a much better chance of increasing the flow of traffic and allowing for shorter wait times within that area. He provided multiple examples of drone footage, showing the traffic in the area and how a roundabout would provide a necessary improvement to the streets. After much discussion, the council came to a consensus that action must take place and the double lane roundabout is the most promising of the options given to them. They agreed that spending some more money to create a double lane roundabout sooner, rather than later, would be a very positive addition to the solution of traffic buildup within the city. There was no official date range discussed during the meeting, but there was an understanding that, sometime within the next 5-10 years, a solution of a double lane roundabout intersection of Pine Street, Chumstick Highway, and US Highway 2, will come to fruition.
As the meeting progressed, discussion of a few other topics rose to the council. Anne M. Hessburg was officially elected as Mayor Pro Tempore. The Waterfront Park restroom relocation project was granted an additional $20,912 for environmental and electrical costs. The council also approved the purchase of a 2022 CAT 938M loader to help with snow removal efforts throughout the city. This loader should arrive very soon and will contribute to maintaining the constant snow removal efforts. A new proposition to increase the funds for snow removal was introduced during the meeting. $66,781.95 is the current amount of funds going towards removing and plowing snow in the city. During the meeting, the council decided to introduce the prospect of raising the maximum fund limit to $250,000 for this issue. There was a general understanding that most, if not all, of these funds would be used, as snow removal remains an irritant within the community during this time. The money would stem from parking, lodging, and street funds. There will be more focus on clearing up parking spots and widening streets for tourists and residents to ensure a well-maintained road system. Public works reported that benching operations for snow are about 60% completed, hoping to reach their goal within the next few weeks or so. Lastly, the council reminded us of the Community Engagement Night taking place on January 31 at the Festhalle from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The main attraction for this will be to include some new ideas and designs for a replacement indoor pool for the city. The City Council will reconvene for the regularly scheduled biweekly meeting on January 24 at 6:30 p.m.
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