STERLING – The city is looking at a better way to regulate traffic at what will become a busier intersection come spring, and they’re thinking about doing it in a roundabout way.
Aldermen heard a presentation Monday on a possible roundabout intersection at West LeFevre Road and Lynn Boulevard near Eberley Park and the soon-to-open Halo Branded Solutions headquarters.
Troy Pankratz, senior project manager at Mead & Hunt in Middleton, Wisconsin, discussed a study the firm did on the intersection.
The analysis was in anticipation of Halo Branded Solutions’s new, 157,000-square-foot global headquarters opening in April. Halo has plans to create 250 jobs over the next 5 years, which would double its current workforce, and increase traffic near the plant.
Currently, there are stop signs both ways on Lynn, but none on LeFevre.
Pankratz addressed several myths about roundabouts, including their inability to handle truck traffic.
“Truck drivers tend to like roundabouts because you’re not burning fuel by stopping. We design many, many roundabouts to accommodate large trucks,” Pankratz said.
Looking at the Lynn/LeFevre intersection, Mead & Hunt found several factors, including a 45-mph approach on Lynn, constraints on seeing objects at a distance, Lynn Boulevard being a truck route, and pedestrian and bicycle path crossings.
Mayor Skip Lee asked how the engineers would determine what size the intersection would have to be.
“There’s kind of a sweet spot in sizing these things,” Pankratz said. He noted that the existing intersection, from corner to corner, is about 120 feet across, while a roundabout of 130 to 140 feet would be appropriate.
Sterling Police Chief Tim Morgan spoke in support of roundabouts, saying two or three of the intersections on Allen Road in Peoria have eased up traffic flow there.
“It really allows traffic to keep flowing because you don’t have a traffic light mandating you to stop and wait,” Morgan said.
The idea is just in the discussion stages at this point, and Pankratz recommended the next step be a detailed safety study, which could help with getting Highway Safety Improvement Program funds.
One-ways to two-ways
Mead & Hunt also analyzed options for converting some of the city’s downtown one-way streets back to two-ways. Pankratz shared three proposals for the conversions, which would range in cost from $1.2 to $2.6 million. No action was taken.
Aldermen John Stauter, Jim Wise and Joseph Martin spoke against the proposals, with Stauter and Wise saying they’ve already heard public opposition to the idea.
Stauter said, “Talking to a lot of people, just over the weekend and a lot of other ones, they don’t want it changed. I’m leaning that way too. It works well for us here and everybody knows it.”
The council voted to approve an agreement with Wendler Engineering to develop engineering for a new stormwater detention basin at Sanborn Park, near the Five Points intersection. The basin would then outlet to a new 24-inch storm sewer down Sanborn Street, passing around Wendy’s and into Woodlawn Creek.
The City Council's next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 2 in the council chambers at the Sterling Coliseum, 212 Third Ave.