Snake River Avenue roundabout project gets green light

LEWISTON, ID - Yet another battle between Lewiston City Council members led to the approval of building the controversial roundabout at Snake River Avenue.

A simple intersection has created an uproar of public opinion about how to best move forward with the proposed roundabout in Lewiston.

"This is the kind of project that our city council, that our government, that our local government is supposed to be for," said community member Tray Turner. "I just ask someone bring it up for reconsideration and that you remain community minded and do the best you can for the most amount of people. That's what local City government is supposed to do."

After the nearly $2.5 million project was rejected at the last City council meeting, a vote to bring the item back to the active agenda was approved.

"I want to stay in the federal line," said Councilor Dennis Ohrtman. "I want that gas tax money to come back to Lewiston. Our citizens paid it, they deserve to get it back. We don't deserve to take it away from them"

The Lewiston Public Works Department has planned improvements for the Southway and Snake River Avenues for the past 14 years. If the agreement were rejected, yet again, the City would have to pay $160,000 in matching funds with the Idaho Transportation Department to build the structure in addition to an estimated $1 million which was previously received for the engineering and environmental work on the project.

"It's time to move forward with the project," said Mayor Pro Tem Brad Cannon. "We talked about a deficit in our project, yah we got one. Our City manager's taken care of that, a balanced budget, didn't I hear that today? It's pretty sweet to have a balanced budget in this City. We've worked hard for that, we've made a lot of cuts to do that. But, this is one area we're not going to cut. I'm sorry, but we're just not going to do it."

"In order for that intersection to work, to handle the traffic that's going to be there, there's got to be some improvements there," said Horrocks Project Engineer Bryan Foote. "And that's what the purpose of this project is, to create an intersection and corridor that will accommodate those in a safe matter."

Councilor Thyra Stevenson abstained from the vote and tried to convince Mayor Kevin Poole to do the same for what she perceives as a conflict of interest. She contends that the mayor's employer, Rediesel Engineering had a role in the project, that claim was denied by Poole.

The council voted six to zero to sign a state local agreement with the Idaho Transportation Department to proceed with the building of the roundabout.

Construction for the roundabout is expected to begin next year.