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5th Street traffic signals coming later this year

Project comes in over budget; LOST funds to pay difference

The new traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 1 and 5th Street will be similar to the one built on Main Street in 2016.

At a May 6 meeting, Solon City Council members approved a low bid for the construction of a traffic signal for the intersection of Highway 1 and 5th Street.

SOLON– Construction on a long-anticipated traffic signal for the intersection of Highway 1 and 5th Street begins later this year.
At a May 6 meeting, Solon City Council members approved a low bid of $286,931.50 from Price Electric, of Robins, for the project.
According to City Engineer Dave Schechinger, construction is not expected to start until late summer at the earliest.
Improvements include traffic signals with video detection and LED signal heads, pedestrian countdown signal heads, push buttons and signage similar to Highway 1 at its intersection with Main Street, completed in late 2016.
The city received four bids for the project, ranging up to $324,874.
The cost was estimated at $217,000, the grant amount received through the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Improvement Program (TSIP), noted City Administrator Cami Rasmussen.
A TSIP grant covered the cost of materials for the Main Street project, but the 5th Street intersection had enough justification for full funding.
“This obviously, is quite a bit different from the bid,” she said.
Rasmussen said the city could use Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds to cover the difference. LOST dollars are already being used to pay approximately $32,100 for the project’s engineering and administrative expenses.
The 5th Street estimate was based on the 2016 Main Street signal, but the cost of materials increased significantly in the time between, Schechinger reported.
“This is a project that has to happen, whether we have 100 percent funding or not,” Mayor Steve Stange said. He highly encouraged approval of the low bid with the remainder to be covered by LOST funds, which he stated would be “a perfect place to use that.”
Over 11,000 vehicles were traveling either the northbound or southbound lane of Highway 1 at the 5th Street intersection on a daily basis, according to a traffic flow study by the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County (MPOJC) in April and September of 2017.
The volume caused significant delays for eastbound and westbound traffic on 5th Street. During peak periods, it was noted motorists on 5th Street waited an average of a minute or more at the intersection, garnering the level of service (LOS) rating of “F.”
The MPOJC used the traffic counts to analyze whether the intersection met the federal guidelines required for a stoplight. One of nine warrants must be met, and the intersection qualified in four of the categories; eight-hour vehicular volume, interruption of continuous traffic, four-hour vehicular volumes and peak hour volumes.
The intersection did not meet the warrant for collision experience, although it came close. There must be five crashes correctable by signalization over a 12-month period, but the study found only four.
In addition to the installation of traffic lights, the 5th Street project will also increase the radius of the intersection slightly, Schechinger said.
The southeast corner of the intersection will widen by about 10 feet, he noted.
Council members approved the low bid and directed LOST funds be used to pay the additional costs.