WILSON: 48th Street project stirs emotions, both pro and con

Posted: Jun. 20, 2014 4:14 pm Updated: Sep. 15, 2014 12:15 pm

A QUINCY/ADAMS County proposal to build a roundabout at 48th and State and reconfigure the four-lane 48th Street into three lanes between State and Columbus Road is one of the hottest topics in Quincy right now.

The roundabout is seen as a solution for congestion that periodically occurs at the intersection due to traffic flowing to or from nearby John Wood Community College.

The three-lane configuration, with one northbound, one southbound and one center turn lane, would allow bike and pedestrian lanes on pavement that already exists.

Hundreds of people showed up at a public hearing Wednesday night to share their thoughts on the proposal. Initial impressions were that attendees who opposed one or both parts of the project far outnumbered those who supported them both.

Adams County Board Chairman Les Post had not yet looked at the written comments at mid-day Thursday. Based on conversations at the hearing, he felt the majority of attendees opposed at least part of the plan.

"People don't like change. You get in a routine and it's hard to accept something different," Post said.

Many opponents said the price tag of $1.5 million is their greatest concern. Most of that cost would involve the roundabout and improvements near 48th and State. Striping and other lane configuration work is projected to cost $100,000.

Quincy Bike Club President Laura Sievert was concerned before the meeting that a letter writer had blasted the plan for bike paths along the side of 48th Street as a $1.5 million boondoggle.

"Nearly the only cost of putting in the bike paths is painting the lanes. It's going to be a very small portion of this project's cost," Sievert said.

However, written comments and early feedback indicate that most people know the bike lanes would not be a major expense. Yet most have expressed their opposition to reducing the number of lanes on 48th Street.

News reports from the meeting included comments from several attendees who said their input would not make a difference. A few said the project is being "pushed down our throats."

Post disputes that conclusion. He said comments are being taken seriously and will affect what -- if anything -- is done.

"This is a joint project between the city and county, and it is certainly a long way from a done deal," Post said.

A few people at the public meeting said they gained a better understanding of the proposal. They did not say that information was enough to sway their opinions either pro or con.

"Most folks had their minds made up before the meeting. I don't think it changed anybody's mind," one politician said.

People on both sides of the issue are passionate about their cause.

Opponents who live or work near 48th Street cannot imagine how things would be better with fewer lanes. To them it's a personal issue, a safety issue and a matter of tax dollars.

Supporters, especially those who want to bike or walk along the street, are just as emotional and concerned about their safety.

"We can't win. If we ride on streets, the drivers don't like it. When we ask for our own lanes, they don't like it," Sievert said.