The Ottumwa Courier

September 10, 2013

City council discusses new proposals for two-way traffic, roundabout

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa City Council held a special meeting Monday night in the Council Chambers, where Larry Seals, director of Public Works, brought new proposals up for discussion.

The proposals focused around converting the west end of Second and Main streets, near Westgate Towers, into two-way traffic and inserting a roundabout at the intersection of Second Street, Main Street and McPherson Avenue. Both proposals were merely to introduce discussion on the topics and will be brought back to the council at a later date after more research is conducted.

Construction due to the Flood Protection Mitigation Project will cause the portions of Second and Main streets from McPherson Avenue to McLean Street to be changed to two-way traffic in order to create a detour route. The temporary two-way setup will go under a trial run and then will be looked at further to determine if the change should become permanent.

The work that is to be done to the Market Street Bridge in the early part of next year, a project that will take anywhere from a year to 18 months to complete, according to a city spokesperson, could also help determine whether this proposal should be talked about more.

The change to the west end of Second and Main streets could pave the way for the rest of downtown to become two-way, though the plans for those steps are still a ways off, city officials say.

Converting the rest of the one-way streets in the downtown area would call for a change to signs and on-street parking but could be a way to limit the dangerous elements of one-way traffic and make the downtown area more inviting. The plans for the downtown portions of Second and Main streets are still being drawn out and will have to be discussed again by the City Council once pricing information and other elements are researched further.

Council members were also presented with a new proposal to create a roundabout at the intersection of Second and Main streets and McPherson Avenue. The roundabout, as proposed, would tie in with the conversion of the west end of Second and Main streets to two-way traffic once construction for the flood project starts. The intersection could easily be converted, according to City Engineer Dan Strum, and create a safer driving environment than the confusing intersection presently there.

The proposals were merely a way to start encouraging the conversation and to get an understanding of whether further steps should start to be discussed. Seals and Strum will both look into the pricing and other aspects of both projects, and the proposals will be brought back to the council at a later date.