AUBURN – Neighbors and businesses around the Minot Avenue-Washington Street rotary will meet Feb. 19 to talk about what they want to see happen to the busy traffic circle.

About 30 residents met in Auburn Hall on Thursday night to review a city plan for the area. That project calls for getting rid of one-way traffic along Minot Avenue between Western Avenue and High Street. It also suggests adding a new traffic control at the Western Avenue intersection – possibly a roundabout, similar to the two installed along Turner Street in the Auburn Mall area.

“There was a very vibrant discussion,” City Manager Glenn Aho said. “Basically, it came down to two concerns – will it affect their business and will it affect their safety?”

Aho said the people from Thursday’s meeting are being asked to write their suggestions down in a letter to the city. They’re all invited to the second meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, to help draft the letter.

“It’s a letter to the city, but really it’s a way for us to get their thoughts down on paper so we can look at and review it,” Aho said. “It’s one thing to go to a meeting and have them tell us their concerns, but you know how memory fades. We want something more permanent.”

The effort is the result of a 2000 study of area traffic patterns. That study found that many people view the rotary area as a traffic snarl and avoid it, choosing to detour around Court Street. The two-lane Court Street had 14,517 average daily car trips compared to 10,825 trips on four-lane Minot Avenue, according to the study.

“So cutting down on that cut-through traffic is a big priority,” Aho said. “We want more people to use Minot Avenue because it’s built to handle it.”

The rotary area seems to be the problem, according to the study. Cars headed north into Auburn on Minot Avenue are diverted onto Washington Street south, then back onto Washington Street north before being allowed to continue along Minot Avenue.

The city’s latest solution would do away with the one-way stretch south from Washington Street north to Western Avenue, between Roy’s Allsteak Hamburgers and Sacred Heart Church. The city could also put a roundabout at Western Avenue to control the flow of cars there.

The work would be paid for with $3.7 million in federal transportation money for repairs. The city needs to spend $407,000 in local dollars to get that money, but no work has been scheduled.

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