Roundabout in Union

Pictured is a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and Independence Drive in Union. The intersection opened in August.

An engineering firm Monday night was directed to remove a roundabout from its proposal for federal funds to be used on Denmark Road before submitting the project for approval.

Personnel, finance and public works committee members are recommending that aldermen approve the request — without a roundabout — to seek $1.27 million in federal funds through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments’ 2014-17 Surface Transportation Program (STP). The application deadline is March 6.

The proposal, prepared by Cochran and presented Monday night, initially included a roundabout intersection at Denmark Road and St. Andrews Drive.

Ward 4 Alderman Karen Erwin, who lives in the St. Andrews subdivision, said many residents in that area oppose that idea.

“They do not want a roundabout there at all,” she said.

Tary Todd, with Cochran, said the roundabout design was included in the proposal submitted to the committee as a method to slow traffic.

“I think the problem with the intersection is the high speed,” he said. “To improve that intersection we have to slow everybody down.”

The other options, Todd said, were a four-way stop, or a lighted intersection. The speed limit on Denmark Road is 45 mph.

Todd explained that if the proposal is approved by East-West Gateway with a roundabout intersection, it would be difficult to change the design.

“We can’t bait and switch,” he said.

Todd said the application could include the amount of concrete necessary to build a roundabout, but will not specify that type of intersection in the proposal.

City Administrator Russell Rost said aldermen can further discuss the intersection details if project funding is approved.

The proposal includes resurfacing of Denmark Road from St. Andrews Drive 1,000 feet east. It includes a low-water bridge replacement. The roadway would be widened and sidewalks would be installed.

Roundabout Talk Ended

Erwin said the talk of adding a roundabout at that intersection already had been abandoned.

“The last time we had a discussion there was no roundabout and all of the sudden it’s thrown in here,” she said. “All of the sudden we just pull this thing out of the air?”

Initially, engineers said there would not be enough room at the intersection for the roundabout. However, Todd noted that it was determined that there would be a large enough area to accommodate that type of intersection.

He added that the federal funding proposals are reviewed based on a point system. Projects that include features like sidewalks or roundabouts receive higher scores.

Mayor Mike Livengood said the complaint from residents about the St. Andrews Drive and Denmark Road intersection is the lack of visibility. He agreed that many are against a roundabout there.

Roundabout Support

However, Alderman Dustin Bailey said there will be trails in the area near the future Benchmark Healthcare facility, and a roundabout is safer for pedestrian traffic because walkers cross one lane of traffic at a time.

He further added that many residents were against a roundabout at Main Street and Independence Drive.

“There were 70-80 percent in the city who disagreed with the Main Street roundabout,” Bailey said. “Now that has completely flipped.”

That intersection was opened in August 2012. A second roundabout is planned for construction this year at Independence Drive and Washington Avenue.

Bailey said as that area grows, traffic will continue to increase.

“We should do it now while we can instead of in 20 years,” he said.