If one reads the press release from City Hall, one is led to assume that the state has given the city a million dollar grant for a roundabout at the intersection of Creek Lane and Highway 282.

A few conversations I’ve had lead me to believe that is an inaccurate assumption. Some cogent points:

The City Council has not approved acceptance of the state’s grant (though it seems likely they will).

Estimates for the final cost of the project seem to vary between $1.5 and $1.8 million. Jordan, it seems, would be on the hook for anything beyond the million dollar grant.

The council has not reached a consensus about a cap on the city’s commitment to the project, although some confusion exists in this regard. I’ve heard that the city has committed a half million dollars for the project, and I’ve heard that the city has committed nothing at all yet.

The grant, as nearly as I can tell, is contingent on actually building a roundabout. If, after seeing firm plans and quotes, the city were to decide to scrap the project, the city would be on the hook for all incurred costs – the so-called soft costs of planning and engineering a project.

An online poll conducted by the Jordan Independent indicated at the time of this writing that 63 percent of respondents do not favor a roundabout at Creek Lane and Highway 282, 35 percent favor such a roundabout, and 1.9 percent of respondents are undecided.

Other options than a roundabout are available, but MnDOT is steadfast in refusing them, even though they may be considerably less expensive.

The City Engineering Firm, which is paid on a commission basis, supports building a roundabout.

One City Council member expressed to me the opinion that because the roundabout is on a state highway, the city should have very little expense associated with the project.

Which leads me to wonder, why is the city involved in the project at all, other than to approve re-routing the exit points of a couple of alleys?

MnDOT has considerable clout and buying power, which Jordan can’t match.

MnDOT retains complete control over the design and timing of the project.

MnDOT is adamant in its refusal to accept other options.

Why does MnDOT want to give Jordan money to build a roundabout? The only reason I can think of is MnDOT wants Jordan to be the Responsible Government Unit for the project, and Jordan, as the RGU, would be on the hook for any costs beyond what’s covered by the million dollar grant. (Think land acquisition issues, unstable or polluted soils, and plain old cost overruns.)

One last thought about all roundabouts — an excerpt from a MnDOT brochure:

“Roundabouts in Minnesota — large trucks may straddle both lanes while driving through a multi-lane roundabout. ... The back wheels of the oversize vehicle can ride up on the truck apron so it may easily complete the turn, while the raised portion of concrete discourages use by smaller vehicles.” (Emphasis is mine.)

If the roundabout is actually built, considering the number of large trucks that will pass through it, and the number of pedestrians who will try to navigate it, I encourage all drivers to exercise extreme caution in it.

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