Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna said he will vote against the construction of a roundabout on Lovers Lane and will ask for a 30-day closing of Fort Steuben Drive to test the impact on traffic going to the Fort Steuben Mall.
Villamagna made his comments during the second Lovers Lane open house meeting Thursday at the PrimeTime Senior Center.
"I am opposed to a roundabout. I have been associated with Lovers Lane since 1976 when I was a Steubenville police officer. The people living on Lovers Lane have been put out since the connector was put in. Lovers Lane is a two-lane country lane and the residents there have suffered since 1976. The reason the city is looking at a roundabout is because it is 100 percent funded and a turning lane with a traffic light is 80 percent funded. Everyone I talked to on Lovers Lane is against the roundabout," Villamagna said. "Make a signalized turning lane at the intersection of Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Drive would be better than a roundabout. But first I think Fort Steuben Drive should be closed for 30 days to see how traffic will work. I am a no vote when the council decides if they support a roundabout."
City Engineer Michael Dolak gave a brief presentation at the start of the meeting and then answered question.
"The average traffic count on Lovers Lane is 10,000 vehicles and sometimes it gets as high as 13,000 vehicles from Sunset Boulevard to the Fort Steuben Drive intersection. If you close the Fort Steuben Drive intersection the traffic will take the path of least resistance and will take the John Scott Highway, Sinclair Avenue or Bryden Road to get to the Fort Steuben Mall and the other stores in that area," Dolak said. "I am recommending a roundabout because it is safer. Not because of which concept receives more federal funding but because it is simply safer."
According to Dolak, the city has a history of planned improvements for Lovers Lane dating back to 1976. The proposed project builds on previous concepts developed in 2008 as part of a Lovers Lane concept study, which included the T intersection of Lovers Lane and Fort Steuben Drive.
"I will ask City Council to introduce legislation within the next couple of weeks and ask them to pass the ordinance to proceed with the roundabout on an emergency basis so we can secure the federal funding," Dolak said, adding the intersection project is anticipated to start in July 2016 and be completed in June 2017.
He said Phase II of the Lovers Lane project will see the widening of the Sunset Boulevard and Lovers Lane intersection starting in 2017.
"That will mean a small amount of property acquisition and that is set for a 2017 start date with completion scheduled for September 2018," Dolak said. "Phase III will see the road completely rebuilt with proper drainage from Princeton Avenue to Fort Steuben Mall Drive. We are looking at a total cost of more than $5 million with most of the cost being covered by federal and state money."