We've written before about the seemingly never-ending, expensive studies and staff-driven push for roundabouts on Saint Mary's Rd and Rheem/Bollinger. For years, the exploration and hundreds of thousands in roundabout consulting firm fees have been guised as "grant funded" to imply the Town wasn't spending any of its own money (which we debunked in our Fact Checks) and ignoring the cost of staff time.
On more than one occasion, the Town Council has been persuaded by staff to continue the nascent project (with a price tag to date equaling $575,000) under the pretext that already-spent grant funds partially funding the studies would have to be returned.
Tonight, the Council will receive an environmental impact report (CEQA) that is the culmination of whatever obligations the Town has for expending grant funds and providing a deliverable.
This conclusion of received/expended funds should also be the conclusion of what has widely been characterized as "folly" by us and others.
Our position is well-reflected in these two resident emails (on which we were cc'd) to the Town Council on this subject:
Several times in the recent past the town has spent time and money on roundabout studies only to come to the conclusion that it would be cost prohibitive to move forward with actually building them. Moving forward AGAIN on the same solution that will I’m sure cost even more now seems like folly and a waste of time and limited resources when there are more affordable alternatives to traffic safety for the impacted intersections. Please move on to other choices.
Would the Town Council please, kindly and mercifully, put this unaffordable and overengineered roundabout fantasy out of its (and our collective) misery?
On at least two prior occasions, the council has indicated this expensive, time consuming and unrealistic exploration should be halted, only to be convinced by staff that doing so prematurely (before the EIR) purportedly would result in having to return already-expended grant funding.
Now that the EIR is before you, let’s accept the report and shut this down.
If there is a legitimate need and desire among residents and the council for a different traffic configuration at the St Mary’s/Rheem/Bollinger intersections, an affordable and commonsense solution should be explored. One like Lafayette’s dual-signal project on Reliez Station (near Olympic) that was accomplished for under $1 million. Not an $8 million dual roundabout.
The folly of roundabouts that needlessly would be an order of magnitude more expensive than other viable, realistic and eminently more affordable solutions (along with the associated waste of staff time AND resident tax money) needs to end tonight.