COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia Public Works hopes a new roundabout on Route K will help manage traffic when a new middle school opens.
Public Works proposed building the single-lane roundabout on Route K between Sinclair and Old Plank roads. If approved by the city council, the $1.2 million project will begin design in 2019 and construction in 2020, according to city officials. Columbia will split the cost with the Missouri Department of Transportation and Columbia Public Schools.
The school district hopes to open a new middle school on Sinclair Road by 2020, just north of the proposed roundabout site. Public Works estimates 7,130 cars will pass through the area every day when the school opens, instead of the estimated 5,550 cars that come through now.
Public Works engineer Allison Anderson said the roundabout would help improve the safety of the road. The project also involves aligning Sinclair Road with Old Plank Road.
"A roundabout causes traffic to slow down as it goes through the intersection," Anderson said. "But also, the way it's laid out, it efficiently moves traffic through the intersection."
If approved, the roundabout would mark the third such traffic device in the area of the new middle school. The city council approved two roundabouts on Nifong Boulevard, one at Sinclair Road and another at Old Mill Creek Road. Anderson said the department is trying to decide which roundabout to start with, and hopes to have all three built by the time the school opens in 2020.
"We're trying to coordinate them all, so we try to stagger the construction is what we're shooting for," Anderson said.
Fourteen crashes have occurred on Route K since 2016, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol records. Residents, including a 13-year-old boy, have asked Columbia city leaders to do something to make Route K safer. The highway is maintained by MoDOT, which said in 2016 it has no projects planned for Route K.
Jordan Showalter, a resident in the Oak Park neighborhood, told ABC 17 News he supported the roundabout plan. Showalter, a teacher at Rock Bridge High School, said the population growth in southwest Columbia made roundabouts a good choice to help keep traffic moving.
"I think the more roundabouts the better," Showalter said. "I think objectively speaking that a roundabout is better than a four-way stop or a traffic light."
Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer said he supported the plan to split the cost.
Columbia currently has five roundabout projects awaiting construction by 2020. Along with the two on Nifong Boulevard, crews will build a double-lane roundabout on Green Meadows Road and Forum Boulevard. Construction is expected to start next year on Vandiver Drive and Parker Street. Another roundabout will be built in northeast Columbia at I-70 Drive and Keene Street.