A city committee has given city staff the nod to move forward with Prairie Dell Road plans, which include a roundabout at the East Central College entrance

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 told members of the personnel, finance and public works committee that he has met with college officials to determine their needs for the entrance and the roadway.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Alderman Dustin Bailey said a roundabout could cause congestion issues if there is a red light for vehicles in the northbound lane of the road. That could block the roundabout intersection.

“I’m a little scared that 50 is going to get jammed up,” Bailey said.

He further explained that if there are 100-150 cars exiting ECC onto Prairie Dell Road, that could cause stacking at the Highway 50 traffic light.

However, Zimmermann said the intersection is the best fit in that location.

“I do feel that the roundabout can handle the traffic,” he said.

Police Chief Norman Brune said there won’t likely be 100 cars leaving the college at the same time.

“At the high school you have 1,200 kids coming out at the same time,” he said. “It’s not like that with the college.”

The project is Phase 1 of the Prairie Dell Road improvements that are in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for 2012-2015. Prairie Dell Road will undergo pavement improvements, pedestrian enhancements, curb and gutter work and widening of the road.

The cost to upgrade the two-mile stretch 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.

The scope of work includes road repairs from Prairie Dell Plaza to Highway 50 and is an 80-20 cost share project. Prairie Dell is a narrow road — about 22 to 23 feet wide.

According to Zimmermann, ECC officials requested that the new sidewalk on Prairie Dell Road be located on the east side, the same side as the college.

But aldermen agreed that the sidewalk should be on the west side of the road where businesses are located, as well as a future apartment complex.

“That’s where all the foot traffic is at,” said Alderman Paul Arand, who owns the Great 8 Cinema east of Prairie Dell Road.

The second phase of the project would extend the improvements on Prairie Dell Road to College Road.

The scope of the Phase II project includes widening of the roadway, and new sidewalks. The project is estimated to cost $1,352,250.