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story.lead_photo.caption A car turns left onto Creek Trail Drive from West Edgewood Drive. The Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee and City Council are considering the construction of a roundabout at the intersection due to the anticipated increased traffic from the new high school. Photo by Greta Cross / News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee will continue discussions about proposed roundabouts on Edgewood Drive.

Due to traffic in the area — and anticipated increase in traffic from the new Capital City High School — the city is considering roundabouts along Edgewood Drive, at Stadium Boulevard and Creek Trail Drive.

To construct those roundabouts, the city would need to acquire some land.

Dick Otke and Gary Oberkrom own a lot at the corner of Creek Trail and Edgewood drives. Design concepts of the roundabout indicate the city would need to acquire at least a portion of the lot to construct the roundabout.

Otke and Oberkrom told the Public Works and Planning Committee on Thursday that people have viewed the lot, but it's difficult to market it due to the uncertainties surrounding the roundabout, such as whether the city will try to acquire a portion of the lot and an estimated timeline.

"Money is not there right now, but just tell us what you're going to do," Otke said. "Let's get an agreement of what you're going to do, whether it's 2020, 2021, 2022. Let's get the mystery out of it, and let's get it decided. Let's get it settled so we can move along. I can't market the lot with this over our head."

City Counselor Ryan Moehlman recommended the Jefferson City Council meet with Otke and Oberkrom in closed session Aug. 19 to discuss the agreement and a possible legality issue.

The appraised value of the entire lot is $550,000, Jefferson City Public Works Director Matt Morasch said.

Acquiring property to build a roundabout is common, Morasch said.

The proposed roundabout at Dunklin Street and Clark Avenue would require the city to acquire a nearby building that currently houses the Joshua House Church, 1136 E. Dunklin St. Roundabout construction would also impact a nearby gas station and some residences.

"It's really pretty common for most road improvements of that nature, whether it's a signalized intersection, expanding the lanes, adding sidewalks or creating a big circle in the middle of a street, it probably needs adjoining rights-of-way," Morasch said. "I'm pretty sure about every roundabout we have constructed, we've needed additional rights-of-way for that."

The city has at least half-a-dozen roundabouts, he said, adding the Missouri Department of Transportation also owns a couple within Jefferson City.

Installing the two roundabouts at Edgewood Drive, Stadium Boulevard and Creek Trail Drive could cost $4 million-$5 million, Morasch said. However, the project is currently not listed as a Sales Tax G project.

"There is a lot of pressure on that intersection with the new high school," he said. "We don't have money in the sales tax to get this project started unless the group, the council, commission wants to change priorities."

Otke and Oberkrom said the two roundabouts on Edgewood should take higher priority due to the anticipated traffic from the new high school.

The city and county partnered to construct a new road, called Cavalier Drive, that connects Creek Trail Drive and the Rolling Hills Drive roundabout. Due to this new road, city staff and residents expect higher traffic at the intersection of Creek Trail and Edgewood drives.

"I think (that intersection is) very dangerous, and I encourage council to prioritize getting that built," Otke said. "I personally think it should have been done already."

Council members expressed interest in discussing funding for the roundabouts further but did not take action during Thursday's meeting.

The committee will most likely discuss the roundabouts again since city staff said it is considering submitting the project for the Governor's Transportation Cost Share Program, which matches up to 50 percent of the construction contract costs for selected projects.

However, the city would have to commit funds quickly if the project were selected, which would require the council to re-evaluate the sales tax project priorities, Morasch said.

The application deadline for the program is Oct. 1.

Morasch said it would make more sense to do both Edgewood Drive roundabouts at the same time to avoid traffic backup, even if it means a higher price tag initially. Traffic currently gets backed up at the Stadium Boulevard and Edgewood Drive intersection.

A consultant conducted a traffic study of the area and recommended the roundabouts on Edgewood Drive, Morasch said.

Normally, the traffic study looks at whether an intersection would benefit from a signal or roundabout, he said. While roundabouts may cost more than signals to construct, they normally require less maintenance and repairs.

Roundabouts are also "considerably safer than traffic signals," Morasch said, so "if one were to consider the safety aspect, you would try to lean to a roundabout definitely."

"If you put a new signal in, you are going to get new crashes," he said. "Sometimes people say, 'Well, I need something done at this intersection because it's unsafe and people are going to pull out in front of people and crash.' Well, if you put a signal in, people are going to get rear-ended, people are going to run the red light and get into a crash. But with a roundabout, basically, if you have a crash, you have to go slow enough to go through it so it's a very small blow."

Morasch said crashes at roundabouts tend to be lower compared to signalized intersections.

The Dunklin and Madison intersection had at least four crashes every year over a five-year period, Morasch said, while the roundabout at Lafayette Street and Stadium Boulevard had less than one accident per year during a five-year period.

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