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Town Council considers two-way Main Street

Pulaski Town Council Tuesday night continued to bat around the idea of returning two-way traffic to downtown.
Although there are no concrete cost estimates for installing a roundabout at the intersection of Main and Third streets to facilitate two-way traffic, the only figures obtained from other jurisdictions so far put the cost at around $500,000.
Town Manager John Hawley said a roundabout installed at Virginia Tech apparently cost about $500,000 and an email from the City of Harrisonburg indicates one constructed in that jurisdiction cost about $500,000, plus the cost of obtaining the rights of way to construct it.
“I don’t think we need to let the numbers discourage us entirely at this point,” Hawley told council. However, he said town staff does need some direction as to what step council would like them to take next regarding the issue.
“Obviously they’re pretty expensive,” Mayor Jeff Worrell said of roundabouts. He asked council members if they would like staff to pursue possible funding avenues or hold a public meeting on the matter. But, he warned that holding a public meeting could be premature at this point.
Worrell said the town doesn’t want to get citizens excited about the prospect of two-way traffic and then find out it isn’t economically feasible to move forward with the project.
Councilman Morgan Welker said he would like to see staff pursue possible funding sources. Even if there isn’t enough funding to complete the two-way traffic project at one time, he said he doesn’t see any reason why the project couldn’t be done in phases as funding becomes available.
“It’ll probably cost just as much – if not more – to signal” the intersection, Welker said. Plus, he said, a signal would slow down the traffic flow.
Asked to explain the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle, Welker said vehicles entering a roundabout have to yield to vehicles in the roundabout, whereas vehicles in a traffic circle sometimes have to yield to vehicles entering the circle. He said traffic circles can become “locked up” due to the stopping vehicles within the circle.
Overall, Welker said there also are a lot of benefits to roundabouts in terms of safety and fuel savings.
Worrell said he has had a number of citizens comment to him about the potential for two-way traffic downtown.
“There seems to be some enthusiasm in the community about it,” the mayor noted. “I don’t think we should give up on (the idea).”
Worrell suggested the issue be placed on the agenda for the upcoming work session so council could discuss it further and give staff some direction.
If a roundabout proves too expensive to install, Welker said there is an option that would allow the project to move forward until funding is available to construct the roundabout.
He suggested traffic on all of Main Street and most of Third Street be converted to two-way traffic. However, the section of Third Street between Madison Avenue and its intersection with Main Street could be retained as one-way traffic.

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Town Council considers two-way Main Street

Pulaski Town Council Tuesday night continued to bat around the idea of returning two-way traffic to downtown.
Although there are no concrete cost estimates for installing a roundabout at the intersection of Main and Third streets to facilitate two-way traffic, the only figures obtained from other jurisdictions so far put the cost at around $500,000.
Town Manager John Hawley said a roundabout installed at Virginia Tech apparently cost about $500,000 and an email from the City of Harrisonburg indicates one constructed in that jurisdiction cost about $500,000, plus the cost of obtaining the rights of way to construct it.
“I don’t think we need to let the numbers discourage us entirely at this point,” Hawley told council. However, he said town staff does need some direction as to what step council would like them to take next regarding the issue.
“Obviously they’re pretty expensive,” Mayor Jeff Worrell said of roundabouts. He asked council members if they would like staff to pursue possible funding avenues or hold a public meeting on the matter. But, he warned that holding a public meeting could be premature at this point.
Worrell said the town doesn’t want to get citizens excited about the prospect of two-way traffic and then find out it isn’t economically feasible to move forward with the project.
Councilman Morgan Welker said he would like to see staff pursue possible funding sources. Even if there isn’t enough funding to complete the two-way traffic project at one time, he said he doesn’t see any reason why the project couldn’t be done in phases as funding becomes available.
“It’ll probably cost just as much – if not more – to signal” the intersection, Welker said. Plus, he said, a signal would slow down the traffic flow.
Asked to explain the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle, Welker said vehicles entering a roundabout have to yield to vehicles in the roundabout, whereas vehicles in a traffic circle sometimes have to yield to vehicles entering the circle. He said traffic circles can become “locked up” due to the stopping vehicles within the circle.
Overall, Welker said there also are a lot of benefits to roundabouts in terms of safety and fuel savings.
Worrell said he has had a number of citizens comment to him about the potential for two-way traffic downtown.
“There seems to be some enthusiasm in the community about it,” the mayor noted. “I don’t think we should give up on (the idea).”
Worrell suggested the issue be placed on the agenda for the upcoming work session so council could discuss it further and give staff some direction.
If a roundabout proves too expensive to install, Welker said there is an option that would allow the project to move forward until funding is available to construct the roundabout.
He suggested traffic on all of Main Street and most of Third Street be converted to two-way traffic. However, the section of Third Street between Madison Avenue and its intersection with Main Street could be retained as one-way traffic.

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