The city of Sidney has proposed a major project to rebuild the section of West Court Street (SR-47) between the Fourth Avenue intersection and Walnut Avenue. Basically the project involves reducing this four lane divided section to two lanes with bicycle lanes on the outsides, possibly constructing a round-about at Wilkinson Avenue, and making some cosmetic changes to the traffic signals at Fourth and at Walnut Avenues. Also included is the widening of the median strip along with plantings of trees and shrubs therein. The estimated cost of the project is in excess of $3.7 million with the city’s portion over $687,000. It is being touted by the city as a “safety and beautification” project.
As a retired professional engineer with 32+ years of experience, I was astounded by the city’s consultant prepared engineering study for this project. Although full of impressive graphics, charts and statistics, it contains outright errors, and omissions of basic data. Further, it ignores traffic engineering principles, and uses other established guidelines completely out of context. The information presented simply does not support the recommendations. Rather, it appears to merely be a smoke screen in order to justify preconceived ideas.
At the standing room only public meeting recently held by the city, approximately 25-30 people were able to comment. Every single one of these were in opposition to the project, and many were vigorously applauded by the crowd.
In my opinion, this is neither a safety nor a beautification project. Rather, it is a misguided attempt by a few city officials, who because they cannot legally further reduce the current 45 mph speed limit, wish instead to decrease vehicular speeds on SR-47 by creating bottlenecks and consequent congestion. Unfortunately this idea is in conflict with one of the basic principles of traffic engineering, and will undoubtedly not only result in major inconvenience for the traveling public, but lead to a significant increase in accidents.
The ultimate fate of this proposal will be decided by a vote of city council in the near future. However, statements following a recent council meeting indicate they are ignoring any opposing public sentiment.
If you share my opinion that this is an ill-conceived scheme, and monumental waste of taxpayer money, (and grant money is taxpayer money), I urge you to contact your councilman, as well as complete and submit the comment form which can be obtained from the city.