Work on the new roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 88 and County Road in Minden should be starting within a month. Once the State made it clear that they were absolutely not putting in a traffic light at the corner, the roundabout idea was quickly approved. According to the Record Courier, NDOT has already received a couple of bids, and a decision should be made within a couple of weeks. Work is scheduled to begin in mid June.
The first estimates for the cost of the roundabout were around $500,000, but like it always happened with government work, those turned out to be way low. The actual bid from Granite Construction is $924,000, almost double that initial guess. The other bid, from Sierra Nevada Construction, is $1.1 million. That is well over the cost of simply putting a stoplight in at the intersection, so we know this decision isn’t about the money. I think the traffic engineers at NDOT just have a roundabout fetish, and they’re determined to force-feed it to us, hoping we’ll realize the error of our ways after we’ve started using it. And maybe we will. Most drivers in the Carson area only have the roundabout at Fifth and Fairview (formerly Edmonds) to use as a point of reference. And apparently that’s one of the worst-designed roundabouts in the United States. So NDOT is determined to show us that roundabouts don’t have to be that bad, and that we’ll really like them if we give them a chance. And for anyone who travels Hwy 88 or County Road regularly, we’re not going to have a choice.
Work on the roundabout is supposed to be done by August, with the cones coming down before the new school year starts. But I’ve had enough experience with Granite Construction to know that this thing’s probably going to stretch into the Fall. This is the same company that took a six-month break when they were repaving Highway 395 a few years ago. So I’m kind of disinclined to expect speedy work out of them.