DUBUQUE, Iowa - Traffic congestion has the city of Dubuque circling back on plans to install three roundabouts through one highly traveled section of the city.
The estimated $10-15 million project centers on a stretch of University Avenue the city calls the East-West Corridor.
In about five years, the city wants to install a roundabout on University Avenue at Loras Boulevard. A second roundabout would go at the three-way intersection of University and Asbury Road. The city would replace the stop light at the intersection of University and Pennsylvania Avenue with a roundabout.
Dubuque city engineers say that would cut congestion by 20 to 30 percent. "They are purposefully designed to ease you into the flow of traffic. And get out where you need to get out," said
engineer Jon Dienst.
The city admits it's a pricy project. In order to make room for roundabouts, the city would have to buy some nearby homes and businesses. "If someone is not getting killed, is that worth it? " said Dienst.
Engineering firm H.D.R found there's a 70% less chance of a fatal accident happening inside a roundabout, compared to typical intersections.
For more than 50 years, Butt's Florist has been located on the busy intersection of University Avenue and Asbury Road. Owner Steve Butt worries a new traffic pattern would cause drivers to by-bass his business. "That makes the person who just says I want to pick up some flowers, think twice," said Butt.
Butt helped start a petition, collecting more than 3000 signatures from people opposing the city's plan.
Right now, the city council does not have money ear-marked for the project. City leaders say they'll likely apply for state and federal grants to help off-set the cost.
"It's not only for safety improvements. Safety is a big part of it. But also reducing the air pollution that goes in that area," Dienst said.
The city of Peosta installed a roundabout a couple years ago. Peosta Mayor Dick Avenarius says at first some residents opposed their plan.
Mayor Avenarius said the biggest opponent recently called him to say adding a roundabout was the best thing Peosta ever did.