Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the vote passed 5-3 instead of 4-3.
After 45 minutes of deliberation among Allen City Council, a $4 million roundabout construction contract narrowly passed in a Tuesday meeting.
The project entails the construction of two roundabouts in both intersections of Allen Drive and U.S. 75, where traffic flow is currently managed by stop signs. It would also include cosmetic changes including landscaping and irrigation.
Allen Engineering Director Chris Flanigan contended that this project, dubbed “The Allen Drive Gateway Project,” would manage traffic volume more efficiently, reduce incidents in which motorists drive on the wrong side of the frontage road and would not require the city to purchase any additional property. Mayor Ken Fulk and other members of council also expressed support for the project.
Conversely, other members of council and various citizens in the gallery expressed fervent opposition, with Councilman Dave Shafer calling the project “a grotesque waste of taxpayer funds.”
“I would say for every email or comment I’ve received from a citizen in support of this, I have probably received a minimum of five opposing this,” Shafer said.
Councilman Dave Cornette concurred with Shafer, saying, “I’ve received several letters from people in the neighborhood that do not want this in their neighborhood … I do remember when this first came out. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now.”
The project was first conceptualized at a January 2018 council meeting and has been the subject of various workshop changes since. That same year, it was published in the city’s Capital Investment Program.
“Up to this point in time, [we] already – by good faith – have spent over $700,000 just to get a design and bids in hand,” Mayor Ken Fulk said. “To me, it just seems like we’re going backwards to say, ‘Well, let’s just toss that money out the window and start over.’”
Shortly after council discussion concluded, the construction bid passed 4-3, with Shafer, Cornette and Councilman Daren Meis dissenting.
Construction of the Allen Drive Gateway Project will begin in December and be completed in summer 2023.