JEFFERSON CITY - Recently approved funding for traffic studies could bring more roundabouts to the Jefferson City area.
Jefferson City approved funding for traffic studies by St. Louis-based firms Bartlett & West and CBB to examine areas throughout Jefferson City in early November.
The firms will examine specific areas such as the intersection of Clark Avenue and Highways 50/63 to potentially build a roundabout.
David Bange, city engineer for Jefferson City, said the efficiency found in roundabouts alone is enough for the city to make the change.
"It is very adaptable to varying traffic volumes, and so if you have only two or three cars, certainly they will just come right into the roundabout and go right out without having to stop," said Bange. "If you have a traffic signal, you’ve probably done it yourself, you’ve pulled up to a traffic signal, you’re the only one at the intersection, the light is red, and you’re just sitting there. With a roundabout if that were to happen, you would look to your left and merge into the roundabout and away you go without even stopping.”
Bange estimates that a roundabout would take about three months to build. Most roundabouts in the Jefferson City area are retrofit, meaning that they are being added into an area that has already been built.
The funding would come from the half-cent capital sales tax approved by Jefferson City voters. In the past, Cole County, who has a similar half-cent capital sales has also contributed to funding roundabouts.
“When you look over long-term cost, roundabouts are typically better long-term costs compared to signal," said Garrett Depue, senior traffic specialist for MoDot. "For a signal you have about half (of a roundabout) at 250,000, but over a lifetime we have to replace equipment we have to have personnel maintain the signal and the equipment that controls the signal. So there is a lot of labor and maintenance cost for signals over the lifetime, whereas roundabouts, it's really not that way, really it's maintaining signing, stripping and signing”.
Both Depue and Bange also mentioned the safety behind roundabouts.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts reduced accidents by 39 percent and crashes involving fatal injuries fell by 90 percents.
Bange also said the area around W Edgewood Drive and Stadium Boulevard studied by George Butler & Associates, four years ago, will be one of the first roundabouts to be built, if approved.