CEDAR CITY — The roundabout is out.
After hearing various concerns from area residents, business owners and truck drivers regarding plans for a roundabout to be constructed at the intersection of Bulldog Road, Coal Creek Road and Kitty Hawk Drive, the Cedar City Council unanimously decided that a T-style intersection would be a better solution.
The issue was discussed at length Wednesday night during the council’s regular work session. Immediately afterward, the council took a few minutes to convene a special meeting just to vote on that one item.
The council essentially had three main options: keeping the roundabout design that was in the current project plans, moving the roundabout slightly farther to the south and going with a T-style intersection controlled by stop signs.
“I would like to choose door No. 3,” joked council member Tyler Melling as he made a motion to approve pursuing the third option. The measure then passed by a 4-0 vote.
Council members said their decision was made right away, rather than waiting until next week’s action meeting, so that Utah Department of Transportation engineers can immediately begin working on reworking the plans for the project, which is already well under way.
As previously reported in Cedar City News, work on the $8.65 million project began in early June. Crews have already demolished the Coal Creek bridge over I-15 and will replace it with a wider bridge later this summer.
Cedar City and UDOT officials noted that the changes in the intersection plans will end up costing a little more than $100,000, but that increase would likely be offset by the anticipated cost savings due to the T-intersection being a simpler design.
“The roundabout’s a little more complex, so we are able to accommodate the changes with the design and still fit the construction schedule,” Kevin Kitchen, communications manager for UDOT’s Region 4, told Cedar City News.
The bulk of the project is being paid for by federal highway funds, with Cedar City’s matching share amounting to 6.77% of the total, according to city officials.
Among the main concerns addressed during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s meeting were the difficulty that large semitractor trailers and commercial equipment would have in navigating the proposed roundabout.
Contractor Mel Clark said if the roundabout were implemented as configured, it would mean his company’s double loads would have to take a 10-mile detour just to go a few blocks from the company’s truck yard on Kitty Hawk Drive to its shop and headquarters on Bulldog Road.
Councilman Scott Phillips shared some of his own concerns, noting that state snowplows, county operations vehicles, gravel trucks and large construction equipment also frequently use the roads in that area.
“I’m so frustrated that we’re at this point. We’ve all had to sit here now and endure this after bids have gone out,” Phillips said. “Because clearly, I don’t see how this is going to work. I’ve been on lots of roundabouts in Europe, and quite frankly, I’m a person that likes roundabouts. But they have to work, and I don’t know how this one’s going to work.”
Another issue was the effect that the proposed roundabout would have on access to businesses along Bulldog Road near the intersection, along with the city’s animal shelter on Kitty Hawk Drive and nearby property owned by the Coal Creek Irrigation Company. Multiple commenters said they viewed the T-intersection as the least intrusive option.
“While roundabouts have a place in some situations, I firmly believed that in our industrial area, a roundabout was not the correct traffic control system,” Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards wrote in a public Facebook post late Wednesday evening, which included a conceptual, non-final map of the proposed T-style design.
“I appreciate the many local business owners that I have met with over the past few weeks, their invaluable perspectives and UDOT for assisting in redesigning a better solution for our community,” the mayor added.
Also commenting during Wednesday’s meeting was Donna Law, a Cedar City resident and member of the Utah Transportation Commission.
“I just wanted to commend everybody for coming together and for looking at solutions,” Law said. “I’m especially proud of the team for the work that they’ve done.”
Kitchen said UDOT’s flexibility in being able to make major changes to a project, even after it has already started, falls with the agency’s so-called “quality of life” framework.
“We want to enhance the quality of life through transportation,” Kitchen said. “Our goal here with this particular project has been to see in what way we can partner and assist the city in accomplishing this long-term goal they’ve had to improve that corridor, and to not be obstructive to what they’re trying to do, but to work in concert with them.”
“I think this is a good example of the flexibility and ability to be able to do that,” Kitchen added. “We’re glad that we can, in this particular instance.”
A few details that are still to be worked out include whether to add a dedicated right-turn lane going from southbound Bulldog to westbound Kitty Hawk and whether a traffic light might eventually replace the stop signs at the intersection. The newly approved T-design will much more easily accommodate such anticipated future improvements, officials noted.
The project, which is being built by Wadsworth Brothers Construction, is expected to be finished by the end of 2021. Those who have questions or concerns about the project may contact the UDOT Team Hotline by phone at 435-417-9417 or via email at [email protected].
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