COLUMBIA - The proposed roundabout at Route K and Old Plank Road received its first round of public feedback Thursday.

City of Columbia engineers addressed public questions in an open house meeting where they presented plans and diagrams for the roundabout. Many attendees of the meeting were area residents or business owners.

“I think perhaps they’re not planning well enough,” said Steve Chott, who lives in a nearby subdivision. “We’re going to have a very difficult time coming out of our subdivision because traffic is going to backup as it goes into the roundabout, and traffic will be speeding up and not allowing anybody to enter.”

In a handout created for the interested parties meeting, Columbia Public Works said the roundabout would improve safety by reducing the speed of vehicles and simplifying turning movements. Some local residents, like Chott, disagree.

“It will reduce safety because we’ll be trying to squeeze out between people that don’t want to let you in,” Chott said.

Chott said he believes that change needs to happen, but doesn’t believe that a roundabout is the right answer. He proposes that widening Route K to include a turn lane would help. The Missouri Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining Route K, whereas the city of Columbia is responsible for Old Plank Road. City engineers present at the meeting said that MoDOT currently has no long-term plans for widening Route K in that area.

Carl Acton lives within eyesight of the location for the proposed roundabout. He said he believes that it will help reduce crashes at the intersection.

“You see a lot of people having to stop because they’re not for sure if you’re going onto Old Plank [Road] or going to continue onto Route K,” Acton said.

Varyanna Ruthengael uses the road to commute to work. She said she thinks that the roundabout will fix current traffic issues at the intersection during hours of high traffic.

“There’s just total gridlock. Nobody could move either direction.” Ruthengael said. “Some people get grumpy and try and go around on the shoulder, and that’s not going to work out."

The city estimates the cost of the project at $1,790,700. The estimate includes the design, relocation of utilities, and easement acquisition and construction. The funding would come from a combination of MoDOT and Capital Improvement Program commitments.

The interested parties meeting held Thursday is the first of six steps leading up to the construction. The next step is a public hearing at a city council meeting which is yet to be scheduled.

Construction of the project is anticipated to begin in summer 2025, and engineers estimate that it will take four months to complete.

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