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Roundabout opponents get a public meeting; construction delayed

People who oppose the roundabout set to be constructed at 14th and Superior have convinced city officials to allow them to hold a public meeting about the controversial $11 million project and push back the construction state date to the week of Oct. 24.

An opponent of the roundabout sent me a flyer advertising a meeting to be held on Wednesday at the Belmont Recreation Center, 1234 Judson St., from 6 to 8 p.m. The city had planned to hold an “open house” on Monday — one day before construction begins. But at the city open house, there is no formal presentation or opportunity for people to line up at a microphone and give the city their two cents about the wonderful/insane project. Instead, there are renderings to look at and consultants to ask questions of and city officials to chat with, but this sort of setup keeps things calm and quiet and non-controversial. Nothing to see here.

But opponents say the city has now agreed to allow them to hold a public meeting, where (according to the flyer), people can voice their concerns and opinions (gasp!). And there will actually be a presentation (this is unusual, people) at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will include a discussion of neighborhood traffic issues and tunnel visibility and the public will be able to comment on the project timeline. Not sure if that’s all they’ll be allowed to comment on.

Does that mean the city is reconsidering the roundabout portion of the project? I highly doubt that. But this way, the mayor’s office can say it gave opponents a chance to speak their mind. Opponents had been promised a public meeting — but they never got one, except for the open house which had been hastily scheduled for one day before construction begins.

People who live and work near the intersection do not believe a roundabout is the best option for the area, and also don’t like plans for a pedestrian tunnel planned on the west and south sides of the intersection — saying it’s not a good plan for middle school students. The project will also widen 14th Street to four lanes from Superior to Interstate 80 and the Department of Roads also is building a bridge over Interstate 80 on North 14th Street.

The I-80 bridge is scheduled to open in August 2012, and the roundabout is scheduled to open in November 2012. The entire project is expected to be completed in May 2013.

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