During a recent public open house, Soldotna City Engineer Kyle Kornelis asked that, when it comes to a proposal to build several traffic roundabouts on Binkley Street, the public give the idea a fair shake.
When the plan was initially shared with the public, there was great deal of concern from the public over how it would affect traffic on Binkley, whether it would help with traffic flow, and even whether changes to the road are needed at all. Some concerns were based on specific issues, some seemed to stem more from fear of the unknown, as there are no roundabouts on the Kenai Peninsula.
However, the city has done its homework on the issue, and at this point has a reasonable answer for most concerns, backed up by traffic impact analyses. Road designers have taken into account all types of traffic, including commercial vehicles and the RVs you see rolling through town. Engineers have made accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians along what is one of Soldotna’s busiest streets, and Central Emergency Services says roundabouts would likely be beneficial to emergency vehicles responding from the station at the Binkley Street-Wilson Lane intersection. Even the process for snow removal has been considered.
The bottom line is that there are many roads around the Kenai Peninsula, including Binkley Street, that handle a much higher volume of traffic than what was envisioned when they were first built decades ago. Upgrading roads is going to take a large investment, as well as some creative problem solving, because in a lot of areas, simply adding more lanes isn’t feasible.
We’re glad to hear that municipal officials and engineers are listening to public concerns as they look for ways to rehabilitate our roads. We hope that those of us who will be traveling on those roads keep an open mind when we see some outside-the-box solutions.