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roundabout design

The Muscatine City Council is moving forward with having a firm design a roundabout at Houser Street and Fulliam Avenue. The Iowa Department of Transportation provided a grant for $167,700 to fully fund the construction of a roundabout, minus the engineering work.

MUSCATINE — The Muscatine City Council last week approved an engineering contract for the design of a roundabout at Houser Street and Fulliam Avenue.

Last winter, Public Works Director Brian Stineman announced the city has won a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation's Traffic Safety Improvement Program to help pay for two projects, including a proposed roundabout at Fulliam Avenue and Houser Street. The grant includes $167,700 to fully fund the construction of a roundabout, minus the engineering cost.

Thursday, council members approved a $19,000 design contract with the firm Shive-Hattery. The firm designed a mini-roundabout in Coralville, which would be similar to the one at Houser and Fulliam.

A mini-roundabout is a smaller-sized roundabout with an island in the middle that some vehicles, such as school buses and semis, can drive over to go straight through the intersection.

While council members and Mayor Diana Broderson have said they've heard complaints from residents about the idea of another roundabout, the council said it would approve the design if affected homeowners were given options during the construction.

City Engineer Jim Edgmond said two homeowners near the proposed roundabout have driveways on Houser Street. Shive-Hattery previously said it would recommend the homeowners use a "right in, right out" approach to accessing and exiting their driveways, which would essentially be in the middle of the roundabout.

Last month, Edgmond said he held a meeting with the homeowners, to see if they would be open to the city paying for amendments to their driveways.

"The (owner) on the north side of Fulliam has plans, he told me, to build a garage on the side of his house facing out toward Fulliam," Edgmond said. "He is all in on us taking the existing driveway out and putting the driveway out on Fulliam, which is a huge win for everybody. It takes away the safety concern and takes away the restriction of a 'right in, right out' on Houser."

He said the city would work on obtaining an estimate to move the driveways of two homes to face Fulliam, rather than Houser. The city would pour the driveway concrete, he said, but would require the homeowners to work with the contractor on the other work.

The biggest challenge, he said, is that homeowners want the roundabout completed before school starts, as the intersection is typically most busy during the start and end of the school day.

"We'll get with these guys and say we want this designed and out on the street as quick as possible," Edgmond said. "How quick we can do that, I don't know. But my hope is we can get it done this summer. But that's more construction added upon more construction."

Stineman previously said the grant money for the roundabout construction should be awarded in July.

Sewer separation contract awarded

Also last week, council members approved a $6.1 million contract with KE Flatworks for the fourth phase of the West Hill Sewer Separation project.

The contract with Flatwork, which is the contractor for the Mississippi Drive reconstruction, should cover the next three summers of construction, according to project plans. Crews will work on 7th Street this summer, move to 8th Street next year and then cover adjacent streets in 2020.

Three broad phases of construction are left to be completed as part of the project, estimated at around $40 million.

The city council will vote on the approval of contract and bond on April 19, according to the agenda.