Council OKs improvements

Grant-funded contracts to improve crosswalks, Downs-Bowman intersection

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Council OKs improvementsThe Ridgecrest City Council, at its Oct. 17 meeting, approved a pair of contracts funded by grants through the Highway Safety Improvement Program to S&H Civilworks.

According to City Engineer Loren Culp, the projects were bundled into one bid because the city could not find qualified bidders for either on their own. A $177,265 contract, plus a 5- percent contingency fee, was approved to construct crosswalk improvements in the city. A $75,000 project, plus a 10-percent construction contingency, will implement an all-way stop at the intersection of South Downs and Bowman roads.

Culp said that S&H was the only bidder to respond to the request for proposal. However, since the project was within the city’s budget, it was considered by city staff to be an appropriate expenditure.

The Downs-Bowman intersection has been a matter of much debate recently at City Hall. Citizen Mike Neel addressed the council last month with a report that at least five accidents have happened at that spot in the last two years.

He thanked Culp, as well as Public Works Director Bard Lower, at the meeting for moving the project forward.

“It’s unfortunate we had to have the verbal tussles over whether we needed this or not.”

Barbara Tunget spoke out from the public microphone to question whether that intersection was dangerous. She suggested that drivers instead were exhibiting unsafe behaviors — including operating cell phones while driving, speeding or driving under the influence of mind-altering substances.

“There is so much going on in the world today,” she said. “Please remember, when you are driving somewhere and you would like to to get there, that other people would like to get where they are going, too.”

Neel said that the number of accidents at that intersection validate the hazard posed to drivers.

Suzanne Seibol agreed that it was a dangerous intersection, citing obstructions on each side that prohibit a clear line of sight for drivers. She did, however, question the cost for installing two additional stop signs.

“The project entails more than just stop signs,” said Culp. He said that construction crews would also be adding advanced signage, street striping, reflective pavement markers and improvements to the turn pockets.

“With prevailing wage rates, it doesn’t take long for equipment, materials and labor to add up,” he said.

The stop signs will also include blinking lights, which will be powered by solar panels installed during the project.

Both contracts were awarded with the unanimous approval of the council.

The next meeting of the Ridgecrest City Council will be on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Story First Published: 2019-10-25