The Leavenworth County Commission has approved a roundabout for the intersection of 20th Street and Eisenhower Road.

The Leavenworth County Commission has approved a roundabout for the intersection of 20th Street and Eisenhower Road.

The 2-1 vote came Thursday. Commission Chairman Doug Smith voted against the motion.

The roundabout will be included in the design for planned improvements to a section of Eisenhower Road. The project will widen the road from west of 13th Street to County Road 5.

The project was promised by the County Commission as part of the renewal of a countywide sales tax that was approved by voters in 2015.

Three representatives of the city of Leavenworth attended Thursday's meeting. Leavenworth Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger argued in favor of a traffic signal at the intersection instead of a roundabout.

County commissioners first discussed the possibility of constructing a roundabout last year. In September 2016, they abandoned plans for a roundabout. Instead, they planned to install conduits at the intersection to make it easier to have a signal in the future.

In August of this year, commissioners asked that the installation of a traffic signal be included as an alternate bid item for construction bids for the project.

Talk of a roundabout resumed in October after Louis Klemp was appointed to fill a vacancy on the County Commission.

An engineering firm working on the project recently conducted a study to determine if a traffic signal is warranted at the 20th Street and Eisenhower Road intersection.

Sarah Shafer, deputy public works director for the county, said Thursday that the engineers determined that neither a traffic signal or roundabout are warranted at this time.

Public Works Director David Lutgen said staff from the Public Works Department were recommending the inclusion of a roundabout or sticking with plans for four-way stop signs at the intersection with conduits for a future traffic light.

When city of Leavenworth officials are looking to do something that will impact the community, they often conduct information sessions and invite public input, Preisinger said.

Preisinger said city commissioners feel their constituents want a traffic signal.

"That's what we're hearing from them," he said.

He said city staff members also are recommending a traffic signal.

Preisinger argued that a contract approved by the governing bodies of the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing and Leavenworth County calls for a traffic signal.

The agreement, which was signed in 2016, states "appropriate and necessary traffic signals, including at 20th and Eisenhower, and signage shall be installed under the project, with Leavenworth assuming responsibility for the maintenance and repair of such signals and signage."

Under the agreement, the city of Leavenworth will be responsible for maintaining the section of Eisenhower Road after the project is completed.

"Really, the county's participation in this is the funding," County Administrator Mark Loughry said.

Lutgen said the cost of constructing a roundabout would be about the same as installing a traffic signal at the intersection.

Preisinger questioned whether a roundabout would be convenient for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

He also questioned whether a tractor-trailer can maneuver around a roundabout.

Shafer said the engineers who studied the intersection took into account tractor-trailers and fire trucks.

"We didn't want to impede any traffic," she said.

At one point, Klemp made a motion to install four-way stop signs at the intersection. He said city officials can pay for a traffic signal if they want one.

Smith said the contract between the cities and county government spelled out having a traffic signal.

County Counselor David Van Parys said there is room for discussion on the issue.

Klemp withdrew his initial motion and made a new motion to place a roundabout at 20th Street and Eisenhower Road. He indicated the county would pay for the roundabout as part of the project.

After the motion was approved, Preisinger asked Smith to hold at least two public meetings on the roundabout issue. He said the city could provide a venue for the meetings.

Klemp suggested people who attend the public meetings may not have researched data regarding roundabouts.

"You can have the meetings, but I don't know what you're going to gain by it," he said.

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