After aldermen reject roundabout project, Snider says he’s ready to turn intersection over to city

Snider berore City Council

Kent Snider, chairman of the Adams County Board, addresses the Quincy City Council during its meeting Monday night. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council voted 9-5 on Monday night not to enter into an agreement with Adams County to build a roundabout at the intersection of 48th and State.

Moments after the conclusion of the meeting, Kent Snider knew what the Adams County Board’s next move would be when it meets April 9.

“Hand it over,” said Snider, chair of the county board.

Snider referred to a 1973 intergovernmental agreement signed by then-Mayor Don Nicholson calling for the transfer of the roads to the city. Adams County Engineer Jim Frankenhoff has previously said the county could turn the intersection and its maintenance over to the city if the city backed out of building the roundabout. Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn previously said he believed the agreement was “legally enforceable” and the county could choose to sue the city if it didn’t agree to share in funding the roundabout project.

The city voted on whether to commit $2.6 million to the roundabout project — matching a similar financial commitment from the Adams County Board. Greg Fletcher (R-1), Jeff Bergman (R-2), Dave Bauer (D-2), Kelly Mays (R-3), Mike Farha (R-4), Tony Sassen (R-4), Mike Rein (R-5), Glen Ebbing (R-5) and Richie Reis (D-6) voted to back away from the project.

City Engineer Steve Bange told aldermen the 1973 jurisdictional transfer agreement says the county would maintain the 48th Street project from Broadway to south of State until 50 percent or more of the road was within city limits. Bange said the project would go along 48th Street from Broadway to 1,200 feet south of State, and along State Street from about 600 feet west of 48th Street to 200 feet east of 48th Street.

“Over 50 percent (of the project) now is fully within the city limits,” Bange said. “That agreement has never been enforced (and) neither party has signed to that agreement, other than in ’73. It has not been filed with the state of Illinois. … We’ve always worked with the county. I don’t think we want to be confrontational, and I believe they would want to work with us to come up with some more reasonable boundaries than these boundaries.”

After the roundabout resolution was defeated, aldermen voted to table the jurisdictional transfer agreement indefinitely.

Bange said a roundabout would get vehicles through the intersection in the fastest way. He said vehicles would have an average of 16.3 seconds going through a roundabout, 25 seconds at a signaled intersection, 89 seconds if left-turn lanes were added and 160 seconds if the intersection was left unchanged.

Former 5th Ward alderman John Mast and Snider addressed the aldermen during the public comment portion at the beginning of the meeting.

Mast said the intersection provides access to areas of the city that have seen vast improvements through multimillion-dollar projects from Blessing Health, John Wood Community College, Quincy Public Schools and the Crossing, as well as private investments.

“These organizations employ hundreds of people,” Mast said. “People utilize our shopping centers or restaurants and help contribute to sales taxes, which is the main source of the city’s revenue. We all know the revenue that is received through those sales taxes allows other projects to get done all the way through the city. Don’t these employers, employees and residents deserve a more efficient and safer intersection?”

Snider said the traffic count at 48th and State — 8,000 vehicles daily going north/south and 6,000 vehicles going east/west — is nearly the same as it is at 24th and Harrison.

He said the problems exist when cars are headed north on 48th Street and west on State Street. As cars stack up on both streets waiting to go through a four-way stop sign, oncoming cars don’t see the line until they reach a rise in the road. Snider said 44 accidents have happened at 48th and State in the past 10 years, with 41 accidents at 24th and Harrison over the same time frame.

“People have asked about a (electric traffic) signal instead of roundabout,” Snider said. “A signal (would) cost more money because (the Illinois Department of Transportation would) require us to take four feet off the hill east on State Street. We’d have to buy a lot more property from the Deters family on both sides.”

Frankenhoff told aldermen that the county had plans to build sidewalks along 48th Street from John Wood Community College to the top of the hill — about 1,200 feet south of the intersection with State. He said that work likely would have been paid for with IDOT funds.

“That program needs an anchor. We just can’t start in the middle somewhere,” Frankenhoff said. “The starting point is the intersection. Obviously, if the city continues northward, the sidewalk would be built all the way to Walmart. The county would then pick it up and head south toward Harrison. It may not be done completely all one time. Programs are available, and we would be applying for those.”

After the meeting, Snider said he had been working on the project for 10 years. He said the “no” vote did not surprise him, but he attended the meeting anyway. He said the county would not continue its plans to widen 48th Street and add sidewalks north of JWCC.

“That would require getting a sidewalk to the top of that hill, but those grants are only available when there’s a sidewalk on both ends,” he said. “Now there’s no sidewalk on the north end, so there is no improvement money. That’s a shame because it was all about the kids.”

Quincy Mayor Mike Troup expressed his disappointment in the “no” vote afterward.

“This just kicks the project down into the future again,” he said. “What’s worse is we lose the funding from the county. To do that intersection today or to do it six months from now or five years from now, it’s not going to be any less expensive. What the aldermen did is vote that they think the city taxpayers need to pay 100 percent of the cost.”

Mays said she had not heard from one person in her ward in favor of the roundabout. Farha said he had heard from one.

The “no” votes from aldermen in the 4th and 5th Wards swayed Fletcher’s opinion.

“I think I need to be standing behind them, granting their wishes,” he said. “I get to drive around my ward, and I talk myself out of this real fast with all the potholes and the street work that needs to be done. If the four aldermen were sitting there saying, ‘We want this’ and ‘We want that,’ it would be different. I’m not hearing that.”

Rein said during the meeting the project is “needed, but it’s not needed now.” He said after the meeting he disagreed with Snider that safety was the primary issue, especially in terms of pedestrians and bicycle riders.

“I have not seen the safety issue myself,” he said. “And if it was real, why hasn’t the county solved this problem 10 to 12 years ago?”

Near the end of the meeting, Bergman said, “Between the emails, letters, the phone calls, talking to people in person, it’s been great to hear from the public. It’s been overwhelming as far as what their thoughts were.”

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