POLK COUNTY -- If the Oregon Department of Transportation didn't know beforehand how Polk County officials feel about installing a roundabout at the intersection of 99W and Clow Corner Road, the agency should have a clear message now.
ODOT is working with Polk County and the city of Monmouth to solve traffic problems at six intersections along 99W between Rickreall Road and Main Street in Monmouth.
There are three options for the 99W and Clow Corner intersection. Erik Havig, ODOT's regional planning and development review manager, met with county leaders on Tuesday, Feb. 23, to discuss just one: a roundabout, or traffic circle.
County officials held firm on their position against a roundabout.
"It seems like the worst place to put a roundabout because of the conflicts we are going to have there," Commissioner Mike Propes said.
Austin McGuigan, the county's director of community development, said one of those conflicts is the difficulty of moving farm equipment through a roundabout on a busy highway.
Propes also pointed out truck traffic coming out of industrial businesses in Dallas will likely use Clow Corner to move freight out of town.
Havig said recent innovations have made roundabouts more practical, even in areas with agricultural and trucking traffic. He said state-of-the-art design methods may prove traffic circles are appropriate at more intersections than previously thought.
County leaders said they did not believe Polk County should be a test location for those innovations.
Havig said he walked away from the discussion with the message that the county would like to see the roundabout option down the list of possible solutions, if not eliminated entirely.
"I hear pretty clearly there are some concerns," he said.
Havig said he will take those concerns back to the project's technical advisory committee.
He said the study should be complete this year.