In late February 2017, the Redwood County board reached a majority consensus that directed its engineer to proceed with a plan to develop a roundabout at the intersection of DeKalb (CSAH 101) and Cook streets in Redwood Falls.

As the direction did not come in the form of an official vote of the board, the idea was that if things would change the plan might be altered as well. That change occurred this past Tuesday morning when the county board officially opted not to proceed with the roundabout plan.

A motion to move forward with the roundabout plan was made by Commissioner Lon Walling, but it died for lack of a second.

So, now it is back to the drawing board.

The question one might be asking is what happened between the end of February and Sept. 19 that led to the change in direction.

The answer came from the public. 

As the public discovered more about the proposal, more people began to raise questions, with much of the concern coming from those who lived in the neighborhood that would be impacted by the roundabout.

A public open house was held Sept. 18 to explain the concept of a roundabout idea and to allow those in attendance at the meeting the chance to ask questions and raise concerns.

The vocal majority of the 50-plus people in the audience spoke out in opposition to the idea of placing a roundabout at that intersection.

Jon Hagen, one of the residents of the DeKalb and Cook streets neighborhood, raised the concerns many others have expressed, including the safety of pedestrians crossing at the intersection, the challenges larger vehicles face in a roundabout, backup issues on the frontage roads that would have to be closed on one end and the increased costs of the roundabout option.

Keith Berndt, Redwood County engineer, and Bill Helget of Bolton & Menk, started off the meeting with a brief presentation on roundabouts and shared, from their professional opinion, that the best option to meet the goals of pedestrian safety and traffic efficiency was the roundabout.

The county board has now directed Berndt and Helget to come up with another option and talked about a stoplight, a four-way stop or leaving it as is with another discussion set for Oct. 3.