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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

No Beech in roundabout, council says

 


The Shafter City Council voted last week to approve a plan to move forward on the engineering phase of the roundabout project that includes Santa Fe Way, Los Angeles Avenue, Highway 43 North and Highway 43 South. The council’s approval means that Caltrans can continue their work on configuring the intersection.

Beech Avenue is presently a part of the intersection, but it will not be a part of the roundabout that is being drawn up, based on Caltrans’ recommendation. With Beech Avenue a part of the project, the cost of the project would drastically increase, and it would also necessitate either having a “five-legged roundabout” and would also need to have traffic signals, which, according to Caltrans, would “defeat the purpose of the roundabout.”

The project’s aim is to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce safety risks that the current intersection presents. The current funding strategy that Public Works is working with consists of the city covering the preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisitions,,which combine to approximately $4 million in costs. Caltrans has committed to fully funding the construction, which,based on similar roundabout projects they have built,will cost between $6 and $8 million.

With the possibility that Beech Avenue would be eliminated anyway by the High-Speed Rail Authority once that project is underway, Caltrans and the city agreed that accepting the roundabout without Beech Avenue would be the best course of action.

For the city’s part of the cost, $1.3 million will come from $1.5 million that is currently programmed for this phase, with the only monies coming from the city’s coffers being close to $200,000,which would not come out of the General Fund, but out of a project account.

If it goes according to plan, design and right-of-way acquisition are anticipated to begin in August 2020, with construction starting in December 2021.

In other council action, an emergency generator was approved to run the city’s water wells if needed. With the summer coming, there is the possibility of PG&E outages to distribute power to the city and the surrounding region in response to wildfires.

The city received two proposals for the generator, with the lower bid being a little over $284,000, by PTS Rentals. Public Works recommended going with PTS because of the cost savings and also their immediate proximity to Shafter.

 

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