A planned roundabout for Grand Island’s Five Points intersection will be larger and cost more than originally expected.
Grand Island City Council on Tuesday approved increasing the funding cap for the project from $1.7 million to $2.64 million.
The project is expected to cost a total of $3.56 million, with the city contributing 20% of that amount as a local match.
The safety project, launched five years ago, originally was expected to cost $2.2 million.
The rise in cost is partly due to a yearly inflation rate increase of 3% to 4%.
The estimate was based on a conceptual design. Since then, the design of the project has changed, Public Works Director John Collins explained.
To make a roundabout work at the intersection of State Street, Broadwell Avenue and Eddy Street, it had to be larger.
“When you add area, you’re also adding right-of-way and utility costs,” Collins said. “The major contributing factor is the cost of adjusting the water line and the sanitary sewer line, and then the storm drainage, which was already deficient.”
Only the project’s “90% plans” are ready.
Once the final plan is approved, a final estimate for the project will be more accurate, he said.
The roundabout at Five Points is needed, Collins said.
“This is one of the highest-scoring safety projects in the state,” he said, “which does things like give us an extra million tonight, where, if it was just an average one, we might still have our cup out a little bit.”
Council member Chuck Haase shared concerns about pedestrian safety at the intersection.
“I was at that intersection and I saw an adult running across the intersection, and I think they were running across out of fear,” Haase said.
There is concern for vehicular traffic. There are an “abnormally high” number of collisions at the intersection.
With a roundabout, there would be a 37% reduction in accidents and 80% reduction in serious accidents, Collins said.
Council member Mike Paulick said he does not support the project due to its increasing cost and lack of constituent support.
“I don’t have any constituents other than about three that I’ve talked to who think this is a great idea,” Paulick said. “I don’t care if there’s a roundabout, but the people I represent think it’s stupid.”
Council member Vaughn Minton said the new roundabout at Capital Avenue and North Road has improved traffic flow, which is often heavy due to nearby schools.
“It’s going to be confusing to people at first,” Minton said, “but once they catch onto it it’s going to be smooth riding and they’re going to be tickled to death because they don’t have to stop at a red light. They can just keep going.”
He added, “These roundabouts work.”
Collins warned that if the council does not approve a roundabout project, the city will lose state funding, have to repay state expenses on the project, totaling $341,000, and still be required to mitigate the hazards of the intersection.
A city-funded signal and drainage project would correct some of those hazards, but would not fix the configuration, even though it would cost nearly $2 million.
A roundabout would bring the city to current state standards, Mayor Roger Steele explained.
“If we just say to the people of Grand Island, ‘we don’t want a roundabout, we just want an abnormally dangerous intersection,’ would you agree with me that’s a liability risk to the city?” he asked Collins.
Paulick voted against NDOT funding for the project and increasing the funding cap; Paulick and Council members Bethany Guzinski and Justin Scott voted against the “90% plan” for the Five Points roundabout.
Construction is currently planned to begin this year.