The city agreed to purchase a parcel of land last week that will make up the largest portion needed for the proposed roundabout at the Independence Drive and Washington Avenue intersection.

City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said the 7,000-square-foot parcel makes up the northeast, and largest, “quadrant” needed to the intersection.

He added that the city purchased the property for $5,000.

The Independence Drive plans have been approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

Zimmermann said there have been verbal right of way agreements from properties where the roundabout would be installed.

Construction is slated to begin in the spring 2013.

Independence Project

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.

The project is included in the latest TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) for the St. Louis Region.

Intersection Debates

Including the intersection at Main Street and Independence Drive now under construction, this would be the second roundabout in Union.

The traffic light has alternated between both a flashing four-way lighted intersection and a timed light intersection several times.

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.