Downtown roundabout generating diverse opinions

Marion city officials will meet with representatives with the Kansas Department of Transportation at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss plans for a roundabout at First and Main streets.

?There?s a lot of opinion, but with very little facts,? City Administrator Roger Holter said about the roundabout.

The information being communicated has been more rumor and innuendo, he said. But last week the actual grant application, diagrams and traffic flows were completed.

Because of concerns regarding truck traffic, Holter approached KDOT?s engineering department to get a study based off harvest traffic.

?In the grand scheme, what is a concern to us does not even meet the 80 percentile of traffic in our state,? he said.

?(KDOT) is not willing to even undertake an engineering feasibility study to redo Kansas Highway 256 because even in peak time we have less than 250 heavy loads per day traveling it.?

And yet the same roadway has about 2,500 vehicles traveling daily.

?It is a concern to us,? Holter said. ?But it is 10 percent of true and actual audited numbers.?

Rationale

About one month ago, the council agreed to create a roundabout at First and Main streets rather than reapply grants to level the old railroad bed on Main, Holter said.

At the time, the city?s share was estimated to be as much as $110,000 with the total project costing $621,894.

However, in a recent update Holter said Marion?s population falls under the 2,499. Based on those figures, the participation ratio for Marion is 0 percent, with the state spending up to $700,000 on the project.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said it?s almost a ?freebie,? adding that it is the city?s tax dollars coming back to the Marion community.

Holter said the roundabout is designed for in-city use.

?The intersection we are talking about will have about 115 heavy loaded trucks versus smaller traffic of 1,040 going through that intersection daily,? he said.

Annually, trucks makeup about 10 percent of the total traffic, Holter said, and truck traffic during harvest is at Third and Main streets.

?In conversations with the property owner,? Holter said, ?(the owner) is very much in support of the project, so we will be able to move forward.?

Concerns voiced

Councilor Jerry Dieter said the most logical route for truckers to take to the new grain terminal on U.S. Highway 56 near Canton is down Main and continuing on Kansas Highway 256 to U.S. Highway 56.

?Right now a lot of grain traffic is heading right out of town,? he said. ?A lot of it is going to Wichita, but that will change (with the new terminal).?

Heitschmidt said Main Street is a state highway and should meet the standards recently done through the KLINK project.

But, because of issues involving specifications regarding the road, the city didn?t agree to take (the resurfaced portion) back.

?In other words, if the city has a problem, that stretch is still a state highway,? he said.

Councilor Jerry Kline questioned the numbers made available by the state.

?I don?t care what your numbers are, it will be very hectic and your local people will be upset because they can?t get out or in,? he said. ?I hope the state knows what they are saying.?

Even after completing the Geometric Improvement grant request, Holter said the city wouldn?t be eligible for funding until 2017.

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