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Posted on Jul 12, 2019

Intersection closure unexpected, but a smart move: Column

By Dave Burgess

The construction project at State Route 28 and 13th Avenue SW in Quincy got more inconvenient this week, when the intersection closed to traffic in all directions. For about two weeks, drivers will have to take a few extra minutes on routes around the intersection.
This major project – construction of a roundabout – on the main entrance to the city from the west created a bottleneck in early April. Now, with the temporary complete closure, we can expect the project to be done sooner and traffic to move better.
The concept of a roundabout in Quincy was controversial. Those who did not want a roundabout might think installation of stoplights would have been faster. A shorter period of construction certainly would have been easier on the businesses that have been so affected by the project.
Road construction commonly does affect businesses, but as incoming city administrator Pat Haley told me recently, the success of the businesses in the commercial area to the south and west of the intersection had increased traffic at the intersection, thus contributing to the need for a solution.
The city’s plan that kept two rough lanes open through the intersection didn’t work well enough for those businesses. Then the project stalled, extending the pain.
What’s neat is that the business people then communicated to the city their preference to close the intersection altogether. It sounded counter-intuitive at first, but it will allow them to get back to normal sooner.
Oddly, a large retailer in the same shopping area, Shopko Hometown, closed its doors in a companywide move, just as the intersection work got underway. That must have reduced traffic, but there were still backups in the intersection.
There is a lot to look forward to later this summer, with the intersection done – not back to normal, with a new roundabout, but open. A Burger King is under construction right on the corner, and a pharmacy is to open in the commercial area there, too. Washington Valley Pharmacy had announced it would open in April. Following the closure of the Shopko pharmacy, lots of people needed to find another pharmacy. However, it looks like the intersection project might have delayed Washington Valley’s opening.
Another bright side to this whole project is how the city responded to business people’s concerns and an idea to solve a problem. The City Council meeting at which the idea was presented was one of the longest in years, and it featured by far the most discussion among city staff and your elected representatives on the council.
Business representatives attended and spoke in a straightforward manner. Ideas and analysis were given time, and discussed openly and civilly. And the council acted.
This is an encouraging development or demonstration of what Quincy can do. It can take on complicated challenges and work out solutions with the most benefit. People’s concerns can be heard and opinions exchanged.
The roundabout doesn’t please everyone, and the project hasn’t gone as quickly as it might have. But the response of the city to local people at this point is a good move.

Dave Burgess is editor of The Quincy Valley Post-Register. He can be contacted at news@qvpr.com.