Work to construct curb, gutters and sidewalks on the west end of Main Street is now under way, which is the first stage of the major roadway project.
City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said work will continue into September on the street project, and there will be some delays this summer.
“The big issue will come into play when we begin on the roundabout because there will have to be closures on that intersection,” he said.
A roundabout is scheduled to be installed in late May at Main Street and Independence Drive.
“We’re only going to close it when we absolutely have to,” he said. “We don’t have routes selected yet — once we have them, we’ll let everyone know.”
The contractor on the project is Magruder Paving, LLC for the cost of $2,247,000. It had originally been estimated to cost $1.8 million,
The Surface Transportation Program (STP) project 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.
The Main Street project is the city’s largest street project since Church Street, and is similar to that project and the Washington Avenue project which have been completed in the past few years.
Zimmermann noted that a major benefit is improvements at the Old Highway 50 and Main Street intersection, which will be realigned.
He noted that a second benefit is a “continuous length of sidewalks” from Highway 47 to Old Highway 50.
“People will be able to get to schools, and it will tie into other sidewalks,” he said.
The roundabout at Independence Drive and Main Street has been criticized and praised by residents and city officials.
There have been letters submitted to The Missourian that oppose roundabouts, calling them traffic hazards and dangerous at the intersection near UHS where there will be many inexperienced drivers.
Residents also have voiced their concern over roundabouts at city hall.
Zimmermann has said that studies indicate that roundabout intersections are safer than lighted intersections in many areas.
“It should be a safer environment for pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and reduce the amount of time to get through the intersection,” he said. “In the middle of the day drivers sit at a red light for no reason and it gets frustrating.”
The traffic light will be removed from the intersection to provide a more continuous flow of traffic
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 said.
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.
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.
“In the uptown area there should be marked improvement in appearance with all new concrete,” said Zimmermann.
Settled and cracked sidewalks will be replaced. There also will be stamped crosswalks, planters, benches and seating areas along the existing historic courthouse.