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Streets, safety, stop sign controversy continues in Lincoln Hills

By: Nicholas Krisa, Lincoln
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Re: Jan. 24 article in The News Messenger on City Council meeting discussion on Sun City Lincoln Hills stop signs (page 7).

SCLH – AKA Stop-sign City Lincoln Hills.” Any environmental gains in using electric vehicles for transportation around Sun City Lincoln Hills is negated by the pollution caused by the excessive use of stop signs throughout the complex.

As Lincoln Hills has evolved to completion, the traffic issues that concerned Del Webb/Pulte are no longer applicable and should be readdressed.  Citizens complain but there is reluctance by city officials to address the traffic-flow issues. And we do understand there are higher priorities, reduced budgets, competing needs, etc., but leadership can find ways to make progress in difficult times.

The recent residents complaining about traffic flow to the City Council (Jan. 22) should know significant efforts have been made to set direction but progress has been blocked primarily by public works director Mark Miller.

Mr. Miller has demonstrated he has little interest in resolving the traffic flow issues. The Sun City Lincoln Hills Traffic Access & Circulation Study is already in place to address some of the problems but Mr. Miller chooses not to even develop an incremental, non-budget impacting implementation plan over a few years. The City Council tasking Mr. Miller to place the recent complaints on the streets committee agenda is feudal and political. Cost estimates of $10,000 was not a part of the plan as “recalled” by Councilman Paul Joiner. The proposal never reached beyond the streets committee. And focus on the city’s responsibility to fix the problems is more important than creating more divisiveness with punitive police enforcement.

My involvement in the stop sign issues date back to January 2007 after the city erected stop signs at Andover at Cooper and later Grand Pheasant at Blackbird for traffic “calming” and speed reduction. It was obvious the city had no comprehensive master traffic flow plan for Lincoln Hills and succumbed to a band-aid approach to satisfy residents’ complaints. The root problem was residents cutting through residential areas because of the stop sign impediments on the major roadways. Sound familiar?  The city’s solution to residents’ complaints was to further worsen the problem by proliferating stop signs into residential areas. For the city’s liability, residents’ welfare and halting ad-hoc implementations, a comprehensive traffic plan was a necessary step.

Terry Rodrigue was a contractor and interim public works director who I like to think was influenced by me to create the master plan. After many meetings (streets committee and others), e-mails, site visits and much discussion, Rodrigue was authorized to spend approximately $12,000 on what became the Sun City Lincoln Hills Traffic Access & Circulation Study. Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. chief engineer Matt Weir developed the study with significant input from others.

Because of limited funding, the study was reduced to traffic flow in the south and southeast areas bounded by Stoneridge, Del Webb Boulevard and Twelve Bridges. Excessive traffic flow and driver issues to and from Rossi Lane was of particular concern. It is the only egress that traverses through residential streets. Removing some stop signs from Parkside and encouraging residents to change their habits by using Spring Valley Parkway was one of many recommendations.

Advertised and well-attended public meetings were held in Orchard Lodge discussing the findings. We jumped through the city hoops.  Progress was being made and hope of incremental changes could be achieved using the study as a guideline. Then, Miller replaced Rodrigue and the effort was abandoned.

I met with Miller, encouraging him to continue with the progress. He cited budgets and manpower were problematic. My speculations were he was “the new guy on the block,” didn’t want to involve himself in such controversy and status quo was easier.  We agreed he would consider allocating monies in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for incrementally implementing the study recommendations. It will be a year next month with no effort or progress. Miller lacks the passion to champion a solution. It is disappointing the effort and momentum has been lost.

The Sun City Lincoln Hills Traffic Access & Circulation Study is limited in scope and should be used as a basis for creating a comprehensive master traffic plan. As a first step, the council should direct Miller to implement the recommendations in the study, carefully adhering to the engineering guidance in the implementation.

Nicholas Krisa, Lincoln

Nicholas Krisa said he spent three-plus  years working with the city of Lincoln’s public works director and Kimley-Horn engineer on preparing the Sun City Lincoln Hill’s  Traffic Access & Circulation Study.

Mark Miller’s reply to Krisa

Mr. Krisa,

Thanks for your e-mail. I appreciate how frustrating it is to have the stop sign issues continue on. You are correct that the city does not have a “comprehensive master traffic flow plan for SCLH” and I agree that a comprehensive study would be valuable.

 

You are also correct that the city has a reduced budget and competing priorities and I’m sure you can appreciate that there are no funds available for the substantial cost of that comprehensive level study.

We are interested in resolving the traffic flow issues, and in fact, we have spent considerable staff time in working toward a safe and affordable incremental solution.

The traffic flow issues have been discussed at several meetings, including the most recent streets committee meeting, and we are planning for incremental improvements.

I support removing appropriate stop signs where the safety, engineering and liability issues are fully analyzed and warranted.

The City Council supports efforts to improve the traffic flow but also is concerned that whatever action is taken is safe for the residents, prioritized with the city’s reduced funding available, and does not create liability.

Mark Miller, Lincoln

Mark Miller is the city of Lincoln’s public services director.