State plans to begin work mid-June | RecordCourier.com

State plans to begin work mid-June

by Sheila Gardner

As the cost of the County Road-Highway 88 roundabout and additional road work approaches $1 million, state Department of Transportation officials are expected to award a bid within two weeks.

Department spokesman Scott Magruder said Wednesday two bids were received for the project set to begin in mid-June with completion by the time Douglas High School resumes classes in late August.

Originally, the estimate for the roundabout was $500,000.

“That was an early estimate,” Magruder said. “Once we sat down and did the design, our engineer’s estimate was $718,000.”

The apparent low bidder is Granite Construction with a bid of $924,000, Magruder said Wednesday.

The second bid was $1.1 million from Sierra Nevada Construction.

The bid also includes modifying the southbound curb radius at the intersection of highways 395 and 88.

Magruder said skyrocketing fuel prices could have pushed up the costs.

“Sometimes the price of oil and gas can affect bids,” he said. “Contractors are feeling the pinch.”

The department has the option of rejecting the bid, but officials hope to complete the roundabout during the summer.

Fred Droes, chief safety/traffic engineer for the state, told parents at Douglas High School on Wednesday that the intersection would not be closed during construction.

He said flaggers would be at the site 24 hours a day to direct traffic.

“It’s up to the contractor, but generally construction starts with the center island,” Droes said. “As they build the circle, people start driving like it’s a roundabout.”

Droes said he and Principal Marty Swisher were trying to schedule classroom presentations before the end of the school year to prepare students for the change that would greet them in August.

“I think your students are going to figure out real quickly how to drive this and will be educating their parents,” he said.

School bus driver Gail Rasmusson wanted to make sure construction delays wouldn’t hold up transportation for summer school students.

“A bus full of kids gets pretty hot in the summer,” she said.

Droes assured parents the roundabout would be wide enough for school buses, trucks and other large vehicles.

He also said he would pass along a suggestion that navigating a roundabout be added to driver’s manuals.

“I’m not going to stand up here and tell you that there’s not going to be a crash in the roundabout, or that nobody is ever going to drive the wrong way,” Droes said. “But, typically, the accidents are property damage only. You don’t have people with broken bones and cuts.”

According to federal statistics, roundabouts result in a 76 percent reduction in injury crashes.

Droes said the department’s landscape architects would work with the community to design the interior of the roundabout.

The project is being funded 95 percent from federal funds and 5 percent from state funds, officials said.

NAVIGATING A ROUNDABOUT

n Slow down.

n Yield to traffic already in the circle.

n Obey one-way signs at all times.

n Watch for pedestrians and bicycles throughout.

n Left turns are completed by circling around the center island and then making a right turn to exit from the roundabout.

ROUNDABOUT FACTS

n A roundabout is a one-way circular intersection without traffic signal equipment in which traffic flows around a center island.

n Roundabouts can accommodate emergency and large-sized vehicles. Drivers should behave in the same manner as they would on any other road if an emergency vehicle approaches. Carefully move your vehicle as far right as possible and, if necessary, stop until the emergency vehicle passes.

n Because the only movement allowed upon entry or exit from a roundabout is a right turn, the occurrence of crashes that result in injury is substantially reduced. Small-angle collisions – the type of collisions that can occur as a result of a right-hand turn – are typically less severe than other types of collisions.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation