One Union alderman said the city should abandon plans for a new roundabout intersection on Prairie Dell Road due to the cost to build the intersection, and recent issues at different city intersections.
Alderman Jim Albrecht said he is opposing building this type of intersection at the entrance to East Central College that is proposed during the Phase 1 of the Prairie Dell Road improvements.
“Do we really need a roundabout there?” asked Albrecht. “It is an awfully expensive way to get through there.”
The city’s approved the proposed Prairie Dell Road roundabout design fees.
Aldermen Dale Schmuke, David Pope, Paul Arand and Vicki Jo Hooper voted in favor of recommending that aldermen approve the design plans. Albrecht voted against the recommendation, and asked if there was an alternative to a roundabout.
“It seems to me that there has to be a better and cheaper way to do it,” he said. “It will cost a bundle to put a roundabout there.”
According to preliminary plans, the entrance to the school will be shifted north slightly where a roundabout intersection will be built.
City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said there can’t be a light installed at the intersection, where the college entrance and Denmark Road meet Prairie Dell Road.
“We can leave it the way it is, but we will have problems forever,” he said. “Doing nothing, I don’t think is a solution”
Changes were made last month to the splitter islands at the roundabout at Independence Drive and Washington Avenue because some trucks were unable to make immediate right turns due to the design of the intersection.
“The thing I have said about roundabouts is that they need to be big enough for trucks and it wasn’t,” said Albrecht.
City Administrator Russell Rost noted that the ECC Board of Trustees is in favor of a roundabout at the entrance to the school.
“The college board thought it would improve the traffic flow situation,” he said.
Rost explained that there are roundabouts in the Forest Park area of St. Louis that allow for freer flow of traffic than four-way stops.
He said St. Louis planners are adding more roundabouts in that area because they work well with a high volume of traffic.
Zimmermann added that it is “very difficult” to get onto Prairie Dell Road from Denmark Road.
He said the intersection would be constructed while school is not in session, and it would take about 60 days to complete the roundabout. During that time traffic would be detoured.
“What works out great is we have a parallel roadway (Progress Parkway) 1,000 feet away,” said Zimmermann.
Prairie Dell Road improvements are in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for 2012-2015.
The project includes pavement improvements, pedestrian enhancements, curb and gutter work and widening of the road.
The cost to upgrade the road is estimated at $1,370,000. The project is an 80-20 cost share project and the city will provide 20 percent of the project cost.
The funds were available through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments’ Surface Transportation Program — Suballocated (STP-S) pool available to area communities.
STP-S funds can be used for projects such as pavement preservation, bridges, highway expansion, congestion mitigation, safety, environmental mitigation, transit and pedestrian facilities.