Marion to Hold Open House About Roundabout

by Jill Kasparie, Reporter

MARION, Iowa - City officials are moving forward with plans to construct a nearly $2 million roundabout at an intersection that has some heavy traffic.

The roundabout would be at 7th Avenue and 7th Street. It's part of Marion's larger "Central Corridor Project" to move some of the city's traffic off of 7th Avenue and onto 6th Avenue. Once it's finished the project will include three roundabouts.

The city is preparing to hold an open house to hear from the public about the options for the roundabout on Tuesday.

City leaders don't expect work to begin for another year. Many, however, are preparing for the potential changes.

"We're pretty excited about it. It's really kind of the first kickoff for this project," said Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn.

The planning continues, but many city leaders are ready to see a roundabout on the busy 7th Avenue.

"They are very efficient, they are safer, they have a very low accident severity rate," said Marion City Engineer Dan Whitlow.

Tuesday night the public will get a chance to look at plans and share their opinions.

"We took a lot of heat with the way that we rolled out the original Central Corridor concept and we made some missteps with that. So, I think our philosophy in all of the phases since then has really been early and often, as far as opportunities for public input," Pluckhahn said.

One business owner definitely wants the city to hear what he has to say.

"It is very frustrating," Wade Ranard said.

Ranard owns Total Eclipse Tanning Studio, right next to the roundabout location. He knows what the construction could mean.

"The intent is -- if we can work it out with the owner -- is to take the building down," Whitlow said while discussing the tanning business.

"I really like it where I'm at, and I don't really want to move," Ranard said.

Wade is planning to start a petition at Tuesday's open house to take a stand.

"We are shooting for, obviously, as many signatures as we can get to present to the city council that the citizens don't want this," Ranard said.

The city said it is keeping the neighborhood in mind as they move forward. They want Tuesday's meeting to clear up any questions people might have.

"If everything works out well, it's going to make that piece of Marion look quite different by 2016," Pluckhahn said.

The city said it plans to use state grant money and other money it typically borrows for infrastructure projects to pay for the roundabout.

The public meeting about the roundabout will take place Tuesday, April 1 at Marion City Hall from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
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