Roundabout plans move forward with forums

Roundabout plans move forward with forumsBy Kerrie Lindecker, Tribune Editor

The city is launching a nine-month public outreach and community workshop process for the long-planned roundabout at the 5-way intersection in central Healdsburg.

The first three meetings are scheduled for this fall to gather community input and inform the public about the project and early stages of work.

Roundabout projects often breed concern among residents that traffic problems will increase as confused motorists crash into each other.

“For a lot of people just not familiar with it, it’s a bit intimidating. It requires a new way of thinking about driving instead of stopping and waiting,” said Jim Heid, a consultant hired to see the city through the project. “It’s not uncommon for people to be concerned about it.”

Heid said very successful roundabout projects have been completed throughout the United States, and often the plans are met with resistance by a vocal few, but overall communities are typically happy with the outcome.

“In a small town, it’s a change. This location, because it’s such a big part of the whole arrival into Healdsburg, there are a few people who are very vocal and are concerned,” he said.

The proposed roundabout will replace an already-confusing 5-way intersection that includes train tracks running through the middle of Healdsburg Avenue and Mill Street.

Part of the community forum process, Heid said, is to help citizens gain a better understanding of what the 5-way project is, and how roundabouts work.

The large-scale project kicked off earlier this year when the city approved spending almost a million dollars for design plans that include the roundabout design, but also plans for underground utility work, landscape architecture, right of way engineering, geotechnical investigation and community outreach.

The initial cost for design work was paid for by Successor Agency Bond Proceeds — money set aside for special projects from the state’s dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies.

A website designed to keep the community informed went live this week at www.healdsburgaveimprovements.com.