Work on Independence Drive is scheduled to begin next year, and officials said they are now more comfortable with the construction of a second roundabout in Union.

Mayor Mike Livengood said the roundabout at Main Street and Independence Drive has created better traffic flow with very few problems.

He expects the same for the roundabout planned on Independence Drive at Washington Avenue.

Livengood noted that the Washington Avenue roundabout must be constructed quickly due to the amount of traffic, including tractor-trailers, that travel through the intersection.

“I feel much more comfortable with a roundabout there, the only thing that has me real concerned is the length of time a collector street is closed,” he said.

There will be efforts to educate those who use the Independence Drive about alternate routes to the city’s industrial park

“We can’t shut it down for too long,” he said. “I would love to see it done as fast as possible.”

According to City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann, work is tentatively scheduled for March or April 2013.

The roundabout is proposed to replace a signalized intersection.

The Independence Drive plans have been approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and is in the TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) for the St. Louis Region.

The scope of work includes resurfacing, and installation of new curb and gutter from Highway 50 to Highway 47.

The funds require a local match of 20 percent, $214,732, while 80 percent, $858,932, of the project would be funded federally through a grant administered through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW).

Other than the roundabout, another change to the roadway is a northbound turn lane into Union High School. The lane will be located near the driveway of the Union R-XI Administrative offices.

Intersection Debates

The traffic light at Independence Drive and Washington Avenue has alternated between both a flashing four-way lighted intersection and a timed light intersection several times during the past four years.

The light was changed to a four-way stop during evening and night hours in April 2008, and then later to a four-way stop 24 hours a day.

Some residents have complained that the four-way stop is unsafe and confusing.

City officials have said roundabouts are safer and less costly to maintain than a lighted intersection.

At roundabouts, vehicles travel counterclockwise around a raised center island, with entering traffic yielding the right of way to circulating traffic. Once there is a gap in traffic, drivers enter the circle and proceed to their exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout they enter without yielding.

Roundabout intersections are “pedestrian friendly” and cheaper than a signalized intersection, officials have said.

Not all residents agree that roundabouts are safe or effective.

There have been letters submitted to The Missourian that oppose roundabouts, calling them traffic hazards and dangerous intersections.