COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia City Council voted 6-1 to move forward with a double-lane roundabout at Green Meadows Road and Forum Boulevard.
Columbia Public Works recommended the city choose that option among four other ideas to make the intersection safer and move cars through it quicker. Mayor Brian Treece cast the one vote against it, citing both the price and effect the roundabout would have on the neighborhood.
Public Works staff estimate the roundabout will cost $1.16 million and will be built in 2019. Fourteen car crashes have been reported at that intersection since 2011, with half of them being right-angle collisions. City engineers said the roundabout would eliminate the potential for those kinds of crashes in a roundabout.
Supporters of the roundabout say the system can better handle traffic in the growing southwest side of town. Matt Pitzer, the council member representing that area, said the four-way stop had outlived its usefulness. The data convinced him the roundabout was the best plan, Pitzer said, and was a good option considering other road projects planned in the area. A widening of Nifong Boulevard in 2020 is expected to send traffic to that intersection during its construction.
"It's the first step in a series of improvements that I do believe are the closest thing to a comprehensive plan" for that side of town, Pitzer said.
Treece said an "abundance of fiscal conservatism" fueled part of his decision, given the city's current budget crunch. He voted against the roundabout plan last year, which led the city to research other possible improvements to the intersection.
"I really think this changes the complexion and character of the neighborhood in a way that probably encourages traffic through there in a time when we haven't really seen the impact of widening Nifong is going to do," Treece said.
Residents who spoke at the meeting were split on what to do with the intersection. Tim Vicente, a leader in the nearby homeowners association, said a majority of the members opposed the roundabout plan. People there are concerned about managing the double-lane roundabout, and Vicente said the large traffic system would disrupt the look of the residential area.
"It's about a neighborhood that's a community made up of individuals that live and interact together, and how this roundabout could potentially impact that," Vicente said.
Pitzer said he hoped the project would include traffic calming on Canterbury Drive and Scottson Way - two streets often used as "cut-throughs" around the intersection.