By BILL SHEA
A decision on the future of Sixth Avenue Northwest in Fort Dodge may be delayed so that engineers can conduct traffic counts and study the flow of vehicles through the Hillcrest neighborhood.
Sixth Avenue Northwest between Second and Third streets northwest may be temporarily closed for up to two weeks so that engineers can observe how driving patterns change in the absence of that road.
The possibility of conducting traffic counts emerged during a Friday morning meeting of the City Council's Engineering and Streets Committee as the elected officials consider completely rebuilding the street or abandoning it after creating a driveway to serve the lone residence that faces the road.
City Manager David Fierke on Friday encouraged the committee members to go forward with the traffic counts as a way to get ''better data-driven answers.''
Councilman Dave Flattery, the chairman of the committee, said he will ask the full council to delay any action on Sixth Avenue Northwest until the traffic count results are known.
The City Council is scheduled to act Monday on a measure that would start the process of soliciting bids for the complete reconstruction of the street, a job that's estimated to cost $350,000. If the council decides to do the traffic counts, its members could remove that item from the agenda or table it in a move that results in no action being taken.
If the council decides to rebuild the street, it may be difficult to get the job done before winter, according to Nate Easter, a project manager for Bolton & Menk, an Ames engineering firm working on the project for the city.
''When you're trying to fit a project in the fall, you could have problems,'' he said Friday. "We've talked with contractors. They said they can fit it in.''
Last year, the Engineering and Streets Committee recommended that the street, which is on a steep hill, be abandoned. At that time, the cost of rebuilding the street was estimated at $260,000.
The cost of vacating the street and building a driveway for the single home there is estimated at $80,410.
Councilman Mark Taylor, who represents the 1st Ward where the street is located, has argued for its complete reconstruction. He said the residents of 80 houses on top of the hill rely on it as the primary access to their neighborhood.