The Town Council has given staff the approval to have a set of working plans prepared for a roundabout traffic circle at the intersection of Avenue of the Fountains and La Montana Drive. Town Manager Grady Miller told the council that, as it is, the Avenue and La Montana is “probably the most confusing intersection in the state.”
The contract will have CK Group, Inc. engineering consultants do the work for $70,013. This includes the roundabout as well as design work for a potential closure of the median at Avenue of the Fountains and Verde River Drive.
Council members Dennis Brown and Alan Magazine both endorsed the roundabout in comments at the meeting.
The proposal is for an “oval” roundabout with offset pedestrian cross walks providing additional distance back from the intersection. One resident, Bob Shelstrom, said he believes the offset crosswalk design is actually unsafe for pedestrians because it reduces the ability of motorists to see someone in the crosswalk.
The roundabout will also require a cutback into the median on Avenue of the Fountains. That will encroach into the landscaped portion adjacent to Town Hall that includes a sculpture and plaza entry portal.
Public Works Director Justin Weldy said there are currently no plans for completing the center of the roundabout. He said an unobtrusive artwork or low landscaping might be appropriate. He said that would be a future decision for the council.
Weldy said he is asking for more than one option regarding the closure at Verde River Drive. The proposal would call for the closure of Verde River Drive to north/south traffic through the intersection. That would allow for a pathway between the existing medians where pedestrians could safely cross.
Weldy said an option to a curbed and landscaped median extension might be bollards that would deny regular traffic access, but could be removed to provide access at street level during special events. He said he expects to have several ideas as options to bring back to the council in the fall.
Staff plans to meet with businesses and residents that would be directly impacted by a closure at Verde River Drive.
In the meantime, staff will install a four-way stop at the Avenue and Verde River Drive using LED-lighted stop signs.
The town’s capital improvement budget for the 2019/2020 fiscal year includes $600,000 for the intersection of Avenue of the Fountains and La Montana, and there is $350,000 included for work at Verde River Drive and the Avenue.