The new roundabout intersection at Main Street and Independence Drive may open this Saturday, according to city officials.

City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said the concrete work is complete and he plans a test drive through the intersection for emergency responders Friday.

He noted that Union Fire Protection District, Union Ambulance District and Union police will take part in the test Friday afternoon.

“We anticipate that we will have it functional by Friday,” he said. “If all goes well, it will be open to the general public Saturday.” The deadline to complete the intersection is Tuesday, Aug. 21, before the beginning of school at the Union R-XI School District. Work began at the intersection at the end of May.

Zimmermann added that the entire road project is just over 40 percent complete and the deadline to finish the street overlay and downtown enhancement portion of the project is in October.

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.

There has been some criticism of the intersection and its location.

Opponents said that the roundabout can be confusing to younger motorists who drive to Union High School.

At the roundabout, the traffic light has been removed to provide a more “continuous flow” of traffic, Zimmermann has said.

Following the intersection work, the State Street and Independence Drive intersection will be permanently closed. There will be a cul-de-sac installed on the west end of State Street.

The Main Street project is funded through the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and is an 80-20 cost-share, including a 20 percent local match and 80 percent federal match.

The scope includes a 2-inch asphalt overlay, concrete base repairs, new sidewalks and signs.

In 2007, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGW) approved the Main Street improvements as part of its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The annual TIP outlines state, county and municipal transportation-related projects authorized for federal funding through EWGW.

Downtown Enhancement

The city also will receive separate federal funds for a downtown “enhancement” project.

Those plans call for “bump outs” to be installed at intersections between Washington Avenue and Linden. Bump outs are extended sidewalk and curb areas intended to provide drivers with a better line of sight for oncoming traffic.

Settled and cracked sidewalks will be replaced. There also will be stamped crosswalks, planters, benches and seating areas along the existing historic courthouse.