Roundabout Taking Shape

The roundabout at the intersection of Independence Drive and Main Street is about 50 percent complete, officials said Monday. The intersection is part of a larger Main Street improvement project that includes downtown enhancements and a new surface. The roundabout is expected to be completed before school begins in mid-August.

The city will work in conjunction with Union R-XI School officials to design signage that will be placed within the center of a roundabout intersection that is now being constructed at Independence Drive and Main Street.

Union R-XI Superintendant Steve Bryant met with the city’s parks, building, development and public service committee Monday to propose a plan to design the signs.

“We need to improve the signage within the district,” he said. “I think it would be neat to open it up to the students — we have a lot of talent within our system.”

Bryant offered an example of a Rolla roundabout that features a large sign with fending and pillars. It includes a welcome message to the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann added that there are plans for a “gateway” on Main Street near the Franklin County Courthouse Square, inviting motorists to the downtown area.

“We may want to look at similar to that so there is consistency in the project,” he said.

The roundabout and downtown enhancement projects are both in conjunction with a larger Main Street resurfacing project.

Bryant was asked to work with Zimmermann to develop a design that would be approved by aldermen.

“Whatever we design here is something we will carry on in our longrange plan,” said Bryant. “Signage and aesthetics are something we want to incorporate in that plan.”

Landscaping would be maintained by the Union High School FFA and the district’s maintenance department, Bryant added.

Zimmermann said there will be water and electricity available at the intersection.

Superintendant on Intersection

When asked by Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper about feedback from school patrons, Bryant noted that he has not heard any concerns about the roundabout.

Bryant added that he has spoken with school officials in other areas where there are roundabouts. They stated that the roundabout intersections have not caused any problems, he said.

“I think the kids will pick it up pretty quickly,” Bryant said.

He added that during construction, he realized how many drivers use that roadway, in particular school officials.

“I didn’t realize how much of a main artery Independence (Drive) is,” Bryant said.

Aldermen Paul Arand and Bob Schmuke both noted that traffic will flow better at the intersection with a roundabout instead of a stop light.

Roundabout Debate

There are some residents who have vehemently opposed the idea of a roundabout. There are complaints that the intersections are traffic hazards and dangerous at the intersection near UHS where there will be many inexperienced drivers.

There have been letters written to The Missourian by residents against the construction of the roundabout, and complaints were lodged at city hall.

There also have been a handful of comments on the city’s Facebook page that included inaccurate information, and personal attacks. That caused the city to disable the comment section of the site.

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.

The traffic light will be removed from the intersection 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, he noted.

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.