DALLAS — PennDOT officials are about two months away from seeking bids to begin construction on the Dallas Roundabout. Now a grassroots movement spurred by residents aims to stop the three-year project from getting started.
In late January, a Facebook page called “Stop The Dallas Roundabout” popped up, raising questions about the planned roundabout’s feasibility. The page quickly gained a public following.
“It (the number of followers) seemed to explode overnight,” said Dylan Roberts, the administrator of the page.
As of Feb. 3, the page had over 585 “Likes.”
The concept of the single-lane roundabout comprising of Main, Church and Lake streets, Machell Avenue and Route 415, was first proposed by a 2005 Back Mountain Area Transportation Study by Edwards and Kelcey, said PennDOT spokesperson James May.
“This (the roundabout project) was planned over a decade ago,” May said.
Public input was sought, May said. A Citizens Advisory Committee was formed and public meetings were held in 2008 and 2009.
The roundabout project is combined with the Upper Demunds Road Realignment Project in Dallas Township under one contracting bid. Bids will be accepted mid-April, he said.
Construction on Upper Demunds Road Realignment Project will begin in June. Utility work for the roundabout will start this year, he said.
But as the project edges closer to reality, residents opposed to the idea are speaking out.
Members of “Stop The Dallas Roundabout” will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at Pizza Bella, 31 Lake St., Dallas, to plan a petition circulation and other measures to protest the project.
“It (the Dallas Roundabout) is not needed,” Roberts said.
The Edwards and Kelcey 2005 study pointed otherwise.
“The study looked at traffic and tried to predict the increase up to 2030,” May said.
The study found the following:
• The five-street intersection was reaching “capacity at the time of the study.”
• The intersection is “routinely congested, with little to no access management and heavy left turns.”
• Bicyclists, pedestrians, traffic congestion and inefficient traffic signaling has created safety issues.
Roberts, who moved into the borough a year ago, admitted he has not read PennDOT’s plans.
“I have not looked at the study, but I did see PennDOT’s YouTube presentation,” he said. “It is inconceivable to me to put in a single-lane roundabout.”
Roberts’ opposition for the roundabout resonates with other residents.
Roberts’ opposition resonates with other residents, including Facebook user Cindy Baum, who posted on the group’s page, “…Keep in mind that many people are not on Facebook or even a computer. The 600-ish people here (on ‘Stop the Dallas Roundabout’ Facebook page) are only a fraction of those opposed. I haven’t talked to anyone that doesn’t think this is a terrible, costly, and potentially dangerous unnecessary scheme.”
Some concerns expressed by the group include tractor trailers navigating through the roundabout, the future of the war memorial, the effect on small businesses and environmental concerns construction will have on Toby Creek.
Large vehicles such as tractor trailers, school buses, fire trucks and ambulances will have room to travel around the traffic oval, Jenelle Ostrowski, assistant liaison engineer at PennDOT said.
The roundabout will have a 19-foot travel lane plus a “concrete apron that is about 16 feet at the narrowest point of the roundabout,” Ostrowski said in an email.
The wide traffic lane will provide enough room for traffic to pull aside to allow emergency vehicles to pass, she said.
“Truck aprons are used to provide additional traversable area around the central island for large semi-trailers,” Ostrowski said. “Typical roadway travel lanes are 11-12 feet wide.”
Maintaining the environmental health of Toby Creek required PennDOT’s engineering firm, McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners, to work with the Department of Environmental Protection and Luzerne Conservation District to ensure best business practices are met.
The Dallas Borough Memorial Monument to military personnel will be stored along with the clock tower and flag pole during construction, May said.
When the roundabout is complete, the monument, clock tower and flag pole will be relocated to the center of the roundabout, he said.
The $4-million roundabout project is planned to be constructed in phases to minimize the impact of business owners and residents, May said.