Hearing explores road construction options - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Hearing explores road construction options

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Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — The community has a chance to weigh in today on the future of Schweitzer Cutoff Road at a public hearing regarding proposed improvements .

The hearing is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. at Sandpoint City Hall. Residents are welcome to drop by any time between those hours to talk with staff, offer opinions or suggestions and learn more about the project. This will be the final opportunity to file an official comment on the project. Those who can’t attend can still offer formal commentary until Dec. 11 by contacting Bryant Kuechle at 800-252-8929 or at bk@langdongroupinc.com.

The project is slated to improve Schweitzer Cutoff Road from near the Old Boyer Road intersection and past Boyer Avenue to a point just west of U.S. 95, according to project officials. Construction is scheduled for 2015 or as funding becomes available.

The central aspect of the design is a roundabout handling the intersection between Boyer Avenue and Schweitzer Cutoff Road. According to associates of design consultant J-U-B Engineers, they initially planned to use a traffic signal for the intersection but changed their plans to a roundabout based on a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This study found that roundabouts greatly decreased the occurrence of fatal crashes, injury crashes and pedestrian and bicycle collisions. The study also noted improved performance in at-grade intersections and roads with highly fluctuating traffic volume.

Regardless of the method used to control the intersection, engineers concluded that something had to be done to keep traffic from backing up. During a day’s busiest moments, westbound vehicles attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Boyer had a tendency to halt traffic — sometimes all the way to the lighted intersection with U.S. 95.

According to project associates, the presence of a roundabout concerned some community members. In response, representatives of Sandpoint Fire Department, Lake Pend Oreille School District and the local trucking community tested oversized vehicles in an Oct. 29 “Roundabout Rodeo” approximating the proposed roundabout’s dimensions. Planners also hosted an Oct. 4 open house that drew in 28 community members. These events gave planners new insight in how best to accommodate heavy vehicles while maintaining a steady traffic flow in the area.

Other planned improvements for the project area include resurfacing, the addition of a possible turning lane west of the Boyer intersection and new amenities like sidewalks, bicycle lanes, curbs and gutters.

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  • Luv83864 posted at 10:55 am on Fri, Nov 30, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    There are much more busier places during the day where traffic backs up. Why did this one place which isn't that bad get this attention? I drive down Boyer nearly everyday and often turn left or right. I haven't experienced a problem unless some construction or event is going on. If anything is affecting the traffic maybe it's the new subdivision on the right off Schweitzer cut off...just maybe? Seems logical to me this would have been something noted would adding the subdivision. Anyway I can think of about 3 places where traffic is much more congested, dangerous and a hold up, division and baldy mountain road is on one of them. I have burn turning left onto Baldy and had to back up or we would have been ran away by truck drivers who weren't aware there isn't enough room. I travel either Boyer or Baldy to Great Northern Road often and experience these locations frequently. My grandma also lives on Vedalwood which would be left off Boyer to Schweitzer Cut off and then past fairgrounds. In the 15 years I've been driving there only heavy mountain traffic or like I said special events or constructed have created traffic. Otherwise it moves fairly quickly and I have had no issues.

  • KJB posted at 8:46 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2012.

    KJB Posts: 643

    I love the roundabouts! Bring it on. So much easier to navigate and really helps move the traffic along. Also, it is very hard to see the traffic coming from the West on Schweitzer Cut-Off b/c of the big hill. No more worries about that with a roundabout. Great solution. Can't wait to see it put into place.

  • wilson posted at 7:34 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    I agree with leech - keep it simple and less costly -

  • leechstomper posted at 3:43 pm on Wed, Nov 28, 2012.

    leechstomper Posts: 1612

    When has westbound traffic held up Schweitzer cutoff? When the fair is letting out? It was mentioned previously that it was chip trucks. Huh? The only reason a chip truck would be going southbound on Boyer is if he was lost. Well over 60% of the traffic at that intersection is northbound Boyer turning right onto the cutoff and THEN being held up by one or two left turners. It is THAT traffic that is the problem.
    Making the last 100ft, or so, of Boyer a three lane with one southbound, one northbound left turn and a right hand turn lane with no stopping onto the cutoff rd. is a start. The cutoff road between the intersection and 95 would be three lane so that neither eastbound cutoff traffic nor the merging northeast bound Boyer traffic would have to stop. If you are really concerned about left turning traffic on westbound cutoff, make it a four lane betwen Boyer and the light so that there could be a dedicated left turn lane onto southbound Boyer. The cutoff road between Boyer and north Boyer need not be changed at all.
    If I have heard properly, the bridge on the cutoff needs to be replaced anyway. Other than that there is no complicated engineering or infrastructure needed other than a couple of triangular directional blocking curbs in the intersection.
    It took me a while to figure out this roundabout mania that the engineering companies keep pushing. They keep pushing it because it is more complicated and their FEES are more. Of COURSE they keep pushing for the most expensive engineering solution even if it isn't the most practical.
    It takes about two seconds of staring at the intersection to see the obvious solution. Someone needs to be a grownup with the checkbook and stop trying to be so "artsie".