Locals debate about possibility of roundabout and MoDOT answers questions concerning a possible roundabout

Waynesville City Council recently announced that a roundabout may be a possibility at the intersection of highways 17 and T.
Following the Daily Guide's article that Waynesville may possibly be the site of the first roundabout in Pulaski County, locals expressed their concerns via the Daily Guide's Facebook page in 123 comments on Daily Guide's page alone with more comments at www.waynesvilledailyguide.com and as readers shared the article throughout Facebook.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Meramec area engineer Preston Kramer, one of the engineers working on the project, answered some of the concerns expressed by readers in an interview Tuesday.
Readers asked why MoDOT is leaning more towards a roundabout, rather than a signal light, more than any other question. Kramer said MoDOT believes the roundabout has many advantages over a signal light in this location including speed, traffic flow, and long-term cost.
Kramer pointed to speeding from the direction of Buckhorn into Waynesville as a specific problem reported by the city, saying a roundabout will slow traffic down significantly from that direction, reducing high speed accidents.
"You can't go through a roundabout at 45 miles an hour, 25 is about the max in a roundabout," Kramer said.
Additionally, Kramer said the wait time for traffic would be reduced because commuters would not have to wait for a light to change and everyone would have "an equal opportunity" to join the flow of traffic.
Cost seemed to be a concern among many readers because according to the city, this project may ultimately cost around $2 million with the city paying half. Kramer said a roundabout is a higher cost than a signal light in the beginning but the long-term cost is lower.
"The initial cost of a roundabout is higher, but over the lifetime of the intersection a roundabout is cheaper. A roundabout doesn't require constant maintenance," Kramer said pointing to the cost of the maintenance of signal lights and electricity costs.
Another concern expressed by readers was the fact that this road is an incident by-pass route for I-44 and many voiced fears that a roundabout would cause issues for large trucks. Kramer said the roundabout design would take this into consideration and would be "friendly to semi traffic."
Residents of the area asked what impact a roundabout would have on property due to the amount of space a roundabout would have to use. Kramer said he believes the impact on property owners would be "very little," stating that MoDOT already has "quite a bit of the space that property owners are mowing now," but MoDOT would still have buy a "little bit" of the "green space" surrounding the intersection to accommodate a roundabout that would allow large trucks through.
Many readers asked if their concerns would be taken into consideration and how much input they would be allowed to have as to whether or not a roundabout ultimately ended up at the T highway intersection.
Kramer said, " We certainly take the public's input into consideration. If a roundabout is the right answer, then it will go in there."
The city said there would be public hearings on the issue as the project moved along and Kramer agreed that there would be a public meeting, "but probably just one."
The final decision about whether or not a roundabout will be built at the intersection has not been made yet, but Kramer said in an email to the Daily Guide about the subject, "Roundabouts are not always the correct answer. We don't arbitrarily place them at all intersections. However, all preliminary data indicates that the installation of a roundabout at the Route 17 - Route T intersection is the best intersection improvement for this location. We haven't completed this analysis, but I would be very surprised if the final analysis results indicated anything otherwise."
In addition to a possible roundabout, there are plans in the works to put a third lane between the intersection of highways T and 17 and the Bank of Iberia area near Ichord Avenue, as well as widen the road and include a four-foot paved shoulder on both sides of the road to "better accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic," according to Kramer. Additionally the speed limit will be lowered to 35 miles per hour. Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman said there would also be space available to extend side walks down that far in the future.
Kramer said everything was still in the "engineering phase" and no actual work would begin until "late 2014." MoDOT is still conducting its analysis of the area and engineers would spend the remainder of 2013 designing and planning. The next phase before any construction could begin after the engineering phase is complete and a final decision is made will be relocating utilities. Kramer said he didn't know when the final decision will be made.
For more information about roundabouts and how to use one, MoDOT has a video people can view at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0RcTWEBtYM entitle All About a Roundabout.