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Twinsburg -- As the $4.4 million Route 91 widening project continues, including a soon-to-be completed roundabout at Route 91 and Glenwood Drive, controversy is brewing over construction of a second roundabout, part of the same widening project and set to beginnext year.
Twinsburg City Council voted in favor of the widening project in February 2014, held public meetings, drove across the state to observe similar roundabouts and read traffic studies before finally agreeing to receive federal and state grants.
Some Councilors say they don't want a second roundabout at Route 91 and Meadowood Boulevard and are pushing for a vote to nix the idea.
At-large Councilor Bill Furey, who supported the roundabouts in 2014, is now siding with three other Councilors who want to nix the second roundabout, giving the nays the majority and possibly causing a delay in the project.
The four Councilors -- Furey, Councilor Brian Steele (Ward 2), At-large Councilor Gary Sorace and Councilor Seth Rodin (Ward 5) -- say they want a more traditional 5-lane road with turn signals rather than the planned roundabout.
They say residents didn't want the first roundabout at Route 91 and Glenwood Drive, much less a second.
"It was never very popular," Furey said. "While going around before the[Nov. 10, 2015] election, Mr. Steele, Mr. Sorace and myself heard more outrage about this than any other issue I've had."
Even if residents wanted the roundabout, Furey says a malfunctioning traffic light at Route 91 and Lisa Lane in Solon would back up traffic, making the circular intersection inefficient.
Twinsburg City Engineer Amy Mohr said she is working with Solon, and the light will be fixed before the 2018 Route 91 project completion date.
Solon engineer John Busch did not return calls seeking comment.
Mohr said delaying the project to rehash the second roundabout could put about $4.4 million in pledged grant money in jeopardy, as well as mean the potential loss of an additional $500,000 grant for the widening project. The city could have to spend more money out-of-pocket to change the engineering and purchase more land for right-of-ways.
Mayor Ted Yates voiced his frustration during the July 12 meeting.
"It seems people think we sat around and said, 'a roundabout would look good here,'" Yates said. "This has been in the works for years. I emceed a public meting at the schools, Council has had several meetings outside and inside of this room. It was a lot of time, a lot of research, at our own expense."
Since taking office in December, Steele has been asking the administration to renew discussions and let Council vote on the plans again.
Sorace and Rodin voted against funding engineering and design of both roundabouts in 2014.
During a July 6 meeting, several Meadowood area residents voiced their displeasure over the proposed roundabout. The meeting was called so Council could vote on a resolution allowing Mohr to submit an application to the state for a $500,000 grant toward the Route 91 roundabout project, a grant application that was approved July 12.
Bob Thewes, of Demi Drive, suggested that by approving the resolution, Council is supporting the Meadowood roundabout. He suggested stipulating that there could be another vote on the entire idea, with the push from Furey, Sorace, Steele and Rodin.
"That circle would be a great idea if we had multiple roads, but we don't," Thewes said. "We have two roads. I've been in that traffic jam before. Starts at Post Road. The people who live on the side streets, with a [traffic] light, youve got a chance to get in. You don't with a circle in a residential area."
Thewes also said there is a lot of foot traffic at that intersection.
"If you don't stop it, we're going to eliminate t-bones, but you're sure not going to eliminate some injured pedestrians," Thewes said. "If the roundabout is built, I'll make sure everyone understands this Council believes in ignoring the voice of the people."
Palmer Lane homeowner Michael DiCillo recalled a meeting eight years ago when he opposed the roundabout idea.
"I said one might work, but not two," he said. "I'm still opposed to it and I think this Council has an obligation and can change to a conventional intersection."
Rodin on July 6 and 12 discussed an online survey of Meadowood residents and found that 60 percent of those who responded were against the roundabout.
Furey said he wants to conduct a more extensive survey, to include all residents. Steele said he is still fighting for legislation that would take the second roundabout off the table.
"My personal opinion is we vote on this," Steele said. "I'm voting 'no,' and that's the way it is."
Email: gmace @recordpub.com