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Ames Area officials become first in 20-year history to table traffic study

Jacob Rice
Story County Supervisor Linda Murken and Mayor John Haila listen attentively durring an Ames City Council meeting on Jan. 24.

The Ames Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) Transportation Policy Committee
will renew discussions on the 190th Street traffic study Tuesday after uncharacteristically voting to table it in the previous meeting.

According to historical meeting minutes, the committee has never tabled a measure and has only had one non-unanimous affirming vote since its inception in 2003. That one example was a 1-8 vote on an amendment regarding removing projects on Bloomington Road. The only other instance of a vote being delayed for any reason was when Mayor John Haila suspended a meeting for 30 minutes in 2020 during a tornado warning.

The recently tabled study was for the 190th Street corridor, which found that placing roundabouts at its intersections with GW Carver Avenue, Hyde/Grant Avenue and U.S. 69 would have fewer predicted crashes and daily emissions than if stop lights were installed instead.

However, the committee, whose voting members consist of the Ames City Council and Mayor and representatives from the City of Gilbert, Boone County, Story County and the Ames Transit Agency, did not accept the report and decided to table it on a vote of 6-2, with At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri and Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin opposing.

The vote to table was put forth after Gilbert Mayor Jonathan Popp, who was unable to attend, had Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher communicate his concerns about the study like the absence of incorporating the Ames Climate Action Plan, the cost of maintenance and the need to prioritize school bus safety.

In an interview with the Daily, Popp said he “strongly encouraged” the tabling because “it was on short notice.”

“With the short notice on sharing the report I think everybody needs a chance to look at that,” Popp said. “There’s a lot of data in there that needs to be discussed and I think there’s some places in there that are incomplete, that need to be reviewed.”

Story County Supervisor Linda Murken said during the meeting that she would be more comfortable tabling the study.

“I think that to some extent Mayor Popp’s questions have been answered,” Murken said. “At the same time I think it’s easier if somebody’s here to maybe ask follow up questions.”

Ames Public Works and AAMPO Traffic Engineer Damion Pregitzer told the committee that not accepting the study meant they felt there was something “technically inaccurate.”

“I think the comments made about weighting certain criteria to make them more important or more valuable is something that happens in a long range plan and would be essentially a policy decision that would be made later,” Pregitzer said.

Gartin, who voted to accept the study, inquired about the possibility of a Gilbert City Council member representing its views as an alternate member that could have avoided the tabling vote.

According Article III Section 3 of the AAMPO Transportation Policy Committee Bylaws, it states that “each member agency may appoint alternates in a total number not greater than the number of its voting representatives” and “have full voting rights at meetings of the Transportation Policy Committee whenever a member agency’s regular representative is absent.”

In interviews with the Daily, Murken said the alternate representative for Story County is another Supervisor, Popp was unsure if there was a Gilbert alternate and a representative from Boone County was unable to be reached.

“There’s been other people that are part of the committee that have been absent in the past,” Popp said. “I’m not sure it’s a critical piece [for] 100% attendance for those meetings.”

Additionally, Tuesday will conclude the hearing on the property maintenance code which Ames residents waited over three hours, including one hour and 45 minutes of the committee meeting, to speak about. Due to the tabling, any resident who shows up at the beginning of the meeting at 6 p.m. and wishes to speak will have to listen to the same 190th Street study that residents listened to in July.

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  • J

    john klaus | Aug 8, 2023 at 10:51 am

    The Ames City Council needs to get a better grip on decision making.