City Council to debate roundabout funding next week; Troup offers support, but Bergman, Farha are ‘big fat nos’

Bergman roundabout 03252024

Jeff Bergman (R-2) holds a sheet of paper listing 61 city blocks in his ward that he believes need repair in the next five years during Monday's Quincy City Council meeting. At right is Dave Bauer (D-2). | Photo courtesy of City of Quincy Facebook livestream

QUINCY — The Finance Committee sent two issues about what could be Quincy’s first roundabout to the full City Council to be debated next week.

However, the debate got underway in earnest near the conclusion of Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The city has been asked to commit $2.6 million to the roundabout project at 48th and State — matching a similar financial commitment from the Adams County Board. Aldermen also will be asked next week what to do about a 1973 intergovernmental agreement signed by then-Mayor Don Nicholson calling for the transfer of the roads to the city. 

Neither issue received a recommendation from the Finance Committee on Monday.

Adams County Engineer Jim Frankenhoff recently said the need for the roundabout was because traffic had increased as part of the city’s population eastward expansion.  John Wood Community College and two Quincy Public Schools elementary buildings have been added over the last 20 years. 

Director of Public Works Jeffrey Conte told aldermen on Monday that the estimated cost of the roundabout would come out of the general fund. An additional $300,000 would come out of water funds to relocate a water main.

The City Council approved in March 2022 a joint agreement between Quincy and Adams County that led to the purchase of land, construction and utilities needed to accommodate building the roundabout. At that time, the total cost of the project was estimated at around $4 million, but Frankenhoff recently told aldermen that the cost now is more than $5 million.

If the City of Quincy backs out of building the roundabout, Frankenhoff has said Adams County could turn the intersection and its maintenance over to the city. City Engineer Steve Bange said the 1973 document said the county would maintain the 48th Street project from Broadway to south of State until 50 percent of more of the road was within city limits.

However, Finance Committee Chairman Mike Rein (R-5) questioned the jurisdictional transfer agreement.

“I don’t think that agreement from 50 years ago carries a whole lot of water,” he said. “The whole world looks a little different than it did 50 years ago.”

Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn said he believed the agreement was “legally enforceable” and the county could choose to sue the city if it doesn’t agree to share in funding the roundabout project.

“Jurisdictional transfers are not supposed to be antagonistic and shoved down everybody’s throat,” Rein said.

A motion was made to accept the county’s portion of the project and put it in an escrow account for later use. However, Bange said the county is using its motor fuel tax funds to pay for its portion, and he doesn’t believe the county would be under a legal obligation to furnish that money to the city.

As Mayor Mike Troup was asking aldermen for final thoughts at the end of Monday’s meeting, Jeff Bergman (R-2) asked Conte about the structural integrity of the pavement if there was a “dire need” to dig up the 48thand State intersection for the roundabout.

“From a structural standpoint, there could be some improvements made,” Conte said. “Not necessarily does it have to go to a roundabout, but I think we would want to spend some money if (the intersection was) ours on the shoulders and improve in the intersection itself — obviously (at a) much lower cost than the roundabout.

“It’s not the worst intersection. It does get more traffic than what I expected. It’s pretty close to what 24th and Harrison sees on a daily volume. … But structurally, no, it’s not the most important.”

Bergman called the project “more of a want than a need.” He asked Mike Farha (R-4) if the project was a high priority in his ward. Farha said no.

“I think it borders on the ludicrous and artistic value,” he said. “I know a lot of people will agree with me, but I’m not supportive of water rate increases, I’m not supportive of increasing taxes and I’m sure not supportive of this. As far as the county making threats, let them. They like to make threats.”

Bergman said each ward has too many infrastructure needs that should be placed ahead of putting money from the city into a roundabout. He then asked Troup for his thoughts about supporting the city’s partnership with the county.

“I think anytime you can share the cost with another taxing body, our taxpayers have a benefit,” Troup replied.

“So you would be supportive of the roundabout then and partnering with the county on that right now?” Bergman asked.

“Based on some other information — we’ll present for specifics at next week’s meeting before the full council — I think traffic counts are part of it and the number of accidents in that stretch,” Troup replied. “The other streets (that are) priorities that the aldermen shared with me a few weeks ago don’t have anywhere near the traffic counts on those routes as this one.”

Bergman then held up a sheet of paper listing 61 city blocks in his ward that he believes need work in the next five years. 

“In my mind, this is a dead horse. I’m not supporting this,” Bergman said. “I guess I have a real problem with you asking for our thoughts and input as far as what we, the aldermen, who know what our wards are like … and we present this to you. Yet you sit there and you think for yourself financially it’s probably better long-term to partner with the county on this.”

“Let’s look at the traffic counts,” Troup said.

“Well, no, let’s not look at the traffic counts,” Bergman shot back. “What I’m looking at is representing my neighbors in my ward, and we’ve got horrible streets. We’ve been doing a lot of work over the years to try to rebuild the infrastructure. But we’re not catching up with it.”

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve doubled and tripled the amount of dollars going into streets, sidewalks and curbs,” Troup said. “In the three years (of his administration), we’ve continued to increase our capital spend on those investments.”

“You did that with council support and with council approval, so it’s been a team effort,” Bergman said. 

“Absolutely,” Troup said.

“But it’s not just been yourself. You said ‘I’,” Bergman said. “Here’s the deal. At the end of the day, you asked for my input. Here’s my input. And at the end of the day, you are sitting there saying we need to prioritize a roundabout at 48th Street with 2½ million dollars that could help my ward and every other ward in the city.

“And if you want to ask the public out there what they think is more important — a roundabout on 48th Street or fixing the current situation that they have to drive on every day, even if it’s not a high traffic count — that’s their priority. I’m here to be their voice. I’m a big fat no next week. I hope and pray this doesn’t pass because we need to keep that 2½ million dollars for other projects that are more of a priority right now.”

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