Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Funds sought for 2 Ketchum roundabouts

City would pay only 7 percent of $1.78 million cost

Express Staff Writer

City officials believe a roundabout at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Lewis Street would boost safety and improve traffic flow in the area. Courtesy graphic.

Ketchum wants to build a roundabout connecting the awkward intersection of Lewis Street and Warm Springs Road. It also wants to extend Warm Springs Road's sidewalks up to Main Street and construct another roundabout farther down Warm Springs Road at the Flowers Drive intersection. But how will the city pay for it all?

City Engineer Steven Yearsley said Ketchum could make all these improvements and only pay $131,000 toward the $1.78 million project. The federal government, through the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and Idaho Transportation Department, would foot about 93 percent of the bill.

That's the good news. The bad news is that it's a very competitive process. Yearsley said about 200 Idaho government agencies annually apply for the federal aid money, with only four or five projects being funded. However, he said, Ketchum's chances are fair. He said one of the main deciding factors is that the road must be a major collector for the area, which is true for Warm Springs Road. It must also experience a lot of traffic, which is also true. And the city expects this to only worsen with Warm Springs Ranch Resort planning to build and the Warm Springs area as a whole being only 50 percent built out.

The Ketchum City Council unanimously decided on Jan. 18 to apply for the money. Yearlsey said the city can back out at anytime, even after being awarded the aid money, meaning it doesn't have to allocate the $131,000 but is merely applying.

"There is certainly no harm in applying," Mayor Randy Hall said.

If the project is accepted, Yearlsey said, construction likely wouldn't happen until 2015 when the federal funds are likely available. He said that would give the city a few years to come up with its $131,000 contribution, coming from possibly impact or development fees.

The proposed Warm Springs Road-Lewis Street roundabout, as configured when it was presented in June, included a second bulb at Tenth Street to create a stretched peanut-shaped roundabout. However, that has been scaled back to just one roundabout at Lewis Street.

Trevon Milliard:

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