Roundabout is the talk of road hearing

SANDPOINT —  Planners behind upcoming improvements at Schweitzer Cutoff Road are preparing to move forward as a public comment period draws to a close.

A handful of attendees at the Tuesday night meeting had plenty to say about the proposed traffic improvements and amenities to the stretch of Schweitzer Cutoff Road between U.S. 95 and Old Boyer Road. The majority of collected comments covered the concept’s centerpiece,  a roundabout controlling the intersection between Schweitzer Cutoff Road and Boyer Avenue.

According to J-U-B associate Jay Hassell, people were unsure of the inclusion at first, but many warmed to the idea over time.

“When all was said and done, people were pleased that the roundabout was larger than they anticipated,” he said.

Hassell said one of the most useful initiatives he and his colleagues undertook was a “roundabout rodeo” held near Super 1 on Oct. 29. Planners set up orange cones and markings to approximate the dimensions of the roundabout and curbs. Representatives of the local trucking community, Sandpoint Fire Department and the Lake Pend Oreille School District were then able to navigate it using their oversized vehicles. According to Hassell, they found maneuvering through the roundabout much easier than they anticipated.

The day also benefited from the rainy weather. Due to the large amount of mud in the testing area, J-U-B engineers were able to observe the tire tracks to get a better idea of the patterns an oversized vehicle would follow as it cleared the roundabout.

“We walked away feeling very good about the day,” Hassell said. “We knew we were on right track.”

Between the roundabout rodeo and an open house held on Oct. 4 that attracted 28 people, J-U-B engineers said they obtained plenty of opinions that affected the roundabout design. In particular, they made sure to engage the trucking community for their thoughts on the concept.

“From the beginning, the roundabout was designed with truck traffic in mind,” Hassell said.

Truckers had several points of feedback, which designers later added into their work. In particular, heavy vehicle operators wanted no trees and generally low vegetation in the center and surrounding areas of the roundabout to maintain maximum visibility. They also want curbs with shorter lengths and beveled or rounded edges to make it easier on their tires in case they connected. Finally, they wanted to curb moved in about three feet to maximize space.

Those who didn’t attend either public comment event can still weigh in on the issue. Planners will accept official commentary until Dec. 11. Call Bryant Kuechle at 800-252-8929 or email him at bk@langdongroupinc.com before that date to get your thoughts on record.   

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