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Council cuts back funding for proposed roundabout

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Council decided on Tuesday that $750,000 was too much to pay for a proposed design for a permanent roundabout at the five-way intersection of Catalina Street and El Camino Del Mar.

That more than doubled the $300,000 set aside for the project in February of 2017. Staff was directed to modify the scope of work to reduce the cost and to try to stick as close as possible to the original budget.

“The more expensive option is not a serious choice,” said Councilman Bob Whalen. “It should be simplified. Minimize it and then go out to bid.” 

Mayor Kelly Boyd, whose childhood home was near the roundabout site, concurred.

“I think simple is best and I am tired of going over budget,” said Boyd. 

The pricey elaborate design, developed to improve the center island, surrounding parkways and pedestrian crossings, was based on input from the public workshop held by the City and on the City’s Complete Streets Initiative. 

Increase in the original cost estimate occurred as a result of recommendations suggested during public workshop

Recommendations from the workshop included planting the roundabout with drought-tolerant plants and a specimen tree with nighttime down lighting as the focal point of the island. Other recommendations included using different pavement styles in the crosswalks to increase visibility and aesthetics, landscaping the parkways and protecting existing eucalypti. Proposed curb and other modifications would have put the installation in compliance comply with the American Disabilities Act.

The resulting design was approved by the Design Review Board. A revised design will have to go back to the Board for approval and then be sent out to bid, said City Manager John Pietig.

A reduced version also prepared by staff that only improved the center median island and excluded pedestrian and parkway improvements would have lopped off an estimated $300,000 from the costlier proposal, but still would have cost an estimated $150,000 more than the original allocation.

However, that project would not meet any Complete Streets objectives that originally supplied the impetus for the temporary roundabout, according to staff.

The temporary roundabout was approved in 2015, stemming from previous efforts by the City to meet the Complete Streets Initiative and to gauge public response before considering a permanent installation.

Response was positive, according to the staff report. But not unanimous.

“I live three houses away from the roundabout and I prefer the less expensive project,” said Chris Reed. “In this case, less is more. There are not pedestrian or traffic problems here.”

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